The name for both a writing material and a tall aquatic sedge plant, Cyperus papyrus, native to the Mediterranean region. The papyrus plant was used to make ancient book scrolls in Egypt as early as the 3rd millennium BCE. Its use spread to the Greeks and then to the Roman Empire. Papyrus was used in Sicily as late as the 11th century CE (Wallert 1989). The fresh water plant is cut, stripped of the rind then sliced thinly. The strips adjacent to each other to form a layer, then covered with another layer of strips placed at right angles. Two or three layers are built up, then pressed, pounded and dried to form a sturdy, pliable sheet. Papyrus can darken and discolor with age. It contains about 22-32 % lignin that degrades in the presence of moisture and light.
Synonyms and Related Terms
Egyptian paper rush; paper plant
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