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Origin of Paper

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The word paper comes from the Greek term for the ancient Egyptian writing material called papyrus, which was formed from beaten strips of papyrus plants. Papyrus was produced as early as 3000 BC in Egypt, and sold to ancient Greece and Rome. The establishment of Great library at Alexandria put a drain on the supply of Papyrus, so According to the Roman Varro, Pliny's Natural History records (xiii.21), parchment was invented under the patronage of Eumenes of Pergamum, to build his rival libray at Permagum. parchment or vellum, made of processed sheepskin or calfskin, replaced papyrus, as the papyrus plant requires subtropical conditions to grow.

In China, documents were ordinarily written on bone or bamboo, making them very heavy and awkward to transport. Silk was sometimes used, but was normally too expensive to consider. Indeed, most of the above materials were rare and costly. While the Chinese court official Cai Lun is widely regarded to have first described the modern method of papermaking (inspired from wasps and bees) from wood pulp in AD 105, the 2006 discovery of specimens bearing written characters in north-west China's Gansu province suggest that paper was in use by the ancient Chinese military more than 100 years before Cai in 8 BCE [1]. Archæologically however, true paper without writing has been excavated in China dating from the 2nd-century BCE.

In America, archaeological evidence indicates that paper was invented by the Mayas no later than the 5th century AD.[1] Called Amatl, it was in widespread use among Mesoamerican cultures until the Spanish conquest. In small quantities, traditional Maya papermaking techniques are still practiced today.

Paper is considered to be one of the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China. It spread slowly outside of China; other East Asian cultures, even after seeing paper, could not figure out how to make it themselves. Instruction in the manufacturing process was required, and the Chinese were reluctant to share their secrets. The paper was thin and translucent, not like modern western paper, and thus only written on one side. Books were invented in India, of Palm leaves (where we derive the name leaf for a sheet of a book). The technology was first transferred to Korea in 604 and then imported to Japan by a Buddhist priest, Dam Jing (曇徴) from Goguryeo, around 610, where fibres (called bast) from the mulberry tree were used.

After further commercial trading and the defeat of the Chinese in the Battle of Talas, the invention spread to the Middle East, Production was started in Baghdad, where the arabs invented a method to make a thicker sheet of paper.
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