The Beginnings of Paper

Ancient Civilizations That Used Paper-Like Materials

Did you know that paper has been around for over 2000 years? In ancient times, people used materials such as papyrus, bark, and silk to create paper-like substances. The ancient Egyptians, for example, created a form of paper by pressing together strips of papyrus plant stems. This paper was used for writing, painting, and even wrapping mummies!

Other civilizations also used paper-like materials. The Chinese, for instance, created paper from mulberry bark, hemp, and rags. They were the first to develop the paper-making process, which spread throughout the world. In India, people used the bark of the mulberry tree to create a paper-like substance known as “tapas.”

The Earliest Recorded Use of Paper

The earliest recorded use of paper dates back to ancient China in the 2nd century BCE, during the Han Dynasty. The Chinese court official Cai Lun is credited with inventing paper as we know it today. He discovered that a mixture of mulberry bark, hemp, and rags could be pulped and then pressed into sheets of paper.

Papermaking quickly spread throughout China, and by the 7th century CE, paper was being used for a variety of purposes, such as writing, printing, and painting. Paper eventually made its way to the Middle East, where it was used for books and documents, and then to Europe. Today, paper is used for everything from newspapers and books to packaging and art.