Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Making Scrolls from Papyrus Plants


by M. J. Joachim
I was watching this documentary the other night. It was about ancient scrolls, and one of the things that fascinated me was when they showed viewers how papyrus scrolls are made. Before you read any further, please note. This is not a research article. It’s a memory piece, where one draws on memory to share some information with others, like a story.

All of a sudden, I was looking at a papyrus plant on my screen. Having never really thought about papyrus paper coming from a papyrus plant, I stared intently at my screen.

Next thing I know, a tribe of native people (I believe they were in a rural part of Egypt), were crouching down, tearing the bark off stalks of the papyrus plant. Inside were all these fibers that they cut into thin strips. Then they layered them on top of boards, in a criss-cross pattern, and placed another board on top.

At least two people carried the boards over and placed the papyrus sheets onto a large cement block. Then they placed another large cement block on top. This process helps squeeze the moisture out of the papyrus plant fibers, and flattens the sheets in writing material.

Papyrus paper is extremely durable, lasting for centuries. Some of the oldest papyrus scrolls date back to ancient times – think Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Gospels. Archaeological digs have secured remnants of ancient papyrus scrolls, often making them available for public viewing in various capacities.

Other writing material from ancient days includes leather and pottery. Once again, I was fascinated. Writing of the past was limited at best. It can by all accounts be considered an ancient art form, and indeed people wrote with pictures, as well as words in their works.

Being a writer was not a simple matter of putting words out there, and marketing them to an eager audience. It was a tedious, time-consuming task that very few people bothered to do.

And yet, those that did created some of the greatest literature known to us. Perhaps the tools they used had something to do with it.

That’s all for now good people. Thanks for visiting my Writing Tips blog J

M. J.


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Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons GNU Free Documentation License, Papyrus plants; Wikipedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution, The War Scroll – Dead Sea Scroll