Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On the Making of Papyrus

“The only ancient description we have of the making of papyrus is that of Pliny the Elder in his Natural History Book XIII. He wrote in the latter half of the first century A.D., and while some scholars have questioned whether he had actually seen the process due to some of his remarks, even if he got it second hand, this is valuable first century information… (Pliny, Natural History, 13.74-82)”

Paper is made from the papyrus plant by separating it with a needle point into very thin strips as broad as possible. The choice quality comes from the center, and thence in the order of slicing. The (choice) quality in former times called ‘hieratic’ because it was devoted only to religious books has, out of flattery, taken on the name of Augustus, and the next quality that of Livia, after his wife, so that the ‘hieratic’ has dropped to third rank. Paper of whatever grade is fabricated on a board moistened with water from the Nile: the muddy liquid serves as the bonding force. First there is spread flat on the board a layer consisting of strips of papyrus running vertically, as long as possible, with their ends squared off. After that a cross layer completes the construction. Then it is pressed in presses, and the sheets thus formed are dried in the sun and joined one to another, (working) in declining order of excellence down to the poorest. There are never more than twenty sheets in a roll. See pictures and read article at -- http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2014/11/03/on-the-making-of-papyrus/

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