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The Bible and Archaeology

In ancient times, how was papyrus made?

Papyrus was made from the papyrus plant, a tall, reedy plant that grew in abundance in the marshes of ancient Egypt. Once gathered, the plant was cut into strips several inches long. The outer rind was stripped off, leaving the soft white pithy center. The pith was cut lengthwise into strips. The strips were moistened with water. The addition of water made the pith gummy. Then the strips were laid out side by side on a hard surface, the edges of the strips touching or barely overlapping. A second layer of strips was laid at a perpendicular angle across the first layer. Cloth was used to absorb the excess water. The gummy residue in the papyrus bound the strips together, and bound one layer to the next. To complete the binding of the two layers, they were pounded with a wooden mallet. Then the sheet was placed under a weight, and left in the sun to dry. Once dry, the papyrus sheet was trimmed around the edges, and its surface was smoothed with a pumice stone. The surface was then polished with shell, stone, or ivory. Then the sheet was attached to other sheets using paste made from flour. The resulting long sheets could then be rolled up into scrolls.


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