Sunday, April 15, 2018

Papyrus in ancient Egypt

Ancient papyri are a written heritage of culture that flourished more than 3000 years ago in Egypt. The first evidence for the use of papyrus in the production of writing substrates dates back to the third millennium BCE, in ancient Egypt. A very successful invention, papyrus spread well beyond Egypt’s borders and remained in use until the Middle Ages.

A blank papyrus roll found in the Early Dynastic tomb of Hemaka at Saqqara dating from approximately 3,000 BCE attests to the early use of the plant to manufacture a material clearly intended for writing. It was used throughout Dynastic and Ptolemaic and Roman times and into the Byzantine and early Islamic.

Some of the best known examples are the finely illustrated funerary papyri such as The Book of the Dead of Any from the New Kingdom. Ebers medical papyrus was discovered in 1862 in somewhat good condition bought by the German, George Ebers in 1872 and was named after him. It is the longest, most important and famous historical and medical document. It is kept in Liepzig University.

Papyrus was made from the stems of a reed called cyperus papyrus. The stems were stripped and soaked. The soaked stems were beaten flat and then lain on top of each other in a criss-cross pattern.

Papyrus grew well in the Nile Delta and became the symbol of Lower Egypt. It was one of Egypt’s major exports. Papyrus was also used in the manufacture of light boats, baskets and to make cartonnage (used for mummy masks and cases).
Papyrus in ancient Egypt
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