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Reli 302: Papyrus

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RELI 302
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Papyrus Papyrus is a tall fibrous reed plant that grew along the shallow banks of the Nile River in Egypt Papyrus was used for a variety of purposes in the ancient world eg for making sandals mummy wrappings rope nets sails basketry but it came to be used most predominantly as a writing surface Papyrus is the Latinized form of the Greek word papuros from which the English word paper is derived The papyrus that grows in Egypt today is not the ancient plant Cyperus papyrus but another kind of specimenWe have a detailed account about the construction of papyrus in Pliny the Elders Natural History xiii 7482 although historians have noticed several problems with some of the details given there Most historians however agree on the general process of production on the basis of observation and modern experimentation To make a papyrus sheet thin strips were cut from the inside of the reed the pith aligned vertically on a hard surface slightly overlapping to create one layer Another series of thin strips was placed on top of the first with these strips being aligned horizontally Both layers were then pressed and hammered and the papyrus juices caused the layers to coalesce into a single durable sheet The surface was then smoothed and polished with perhaps a stone or ivory and its frayed edges were cut to make them straight The side of the sheet that features the fibers running in a horizontal direction is known as the recto while the side featuring the fibers running in a vertical direction is known as the verso Usually pa
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