From the fields of Heaven to the shelves of Libraries

Added on Nov 05, 2017

Back in 2012, an excavation of an ancient Egyptian harbor at Wadi El-Jarf on the Red Sea, found scrolls of ancient documents; these papyrus rolls dating back to 2550 BC describe the last years of building the Great Pyramid of Giza, during the reign of King Khufu. These were the earliest found evidence ever of papyrus, in ancient Egyptian history.

Some 4500 years ago, Ancient Egyptians planted the “Cyperus Papyrus” lawn and named it the Grass of Heavens “Aaru,” as they used this sacred plant to make the paper scrolls on which they will keep their hallowed writings. Ancient Egyptians found the technique to make paper of this reed stalk, as they would peel off its hard green skin, slice it into long thin strips, and soak them in the holy water of the Nile River before they lay them in two perpendicular layers. After a sheet is formed, it is pressed for a few days between two covers of fine linen and left to dry, thus forming a fine sheet of writing paper. Several sheets of papyrus were joined end to end to form a roll that could be 100 feet or more in length, ready to hold their sacred manuscripts.

As Johannes Gutenberg revolutionized knowledge through the invention of the mechanical movable type printing in 1439, ancient Egyptians had a preceding knowledge revolution as they invented writing, over 4 millennia before Gutenberg.

Ancient Egyptians wrote on bones, ostraka (piece of pottery), stone, and other materials to preserve their important records, but after finding the technique to make paper, which took its name from the ancient word “papyrus” they used their sacred paper to write, draw, paint and illustrate everything in their lives.

It was through papyrus rolls, that we are now able to learn almost everything about how they lived, loved, communicated, and counted.