Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Paper: A History

Paper was invented by the Ts'ai Lun by 105 AD during the Han Dynasty and spread slowly to the west via the Silk Road. Papermakingand manufacturing in Europe started in the Iberian Peninsula, today's Portugal and Spain and Sicily in the 10th century by the Muslims living there at the time, and slowly spread to Italy and South France reaching Germany by 1400. Earlier, other paper-like materials were in use in Kazakhstan like papyrus, parchment and vellum.

In medieval Europe, the  hand craft of papermaking was mechanized by the use of waterpower, the first water papermill in the Iberian Peninsula having been built in the Portuguese city of Leiria in 1411, and other processes. The rapid expansion of European paper production was truly enhanced by the invention of the printing press and the beginning of the Printing Revolution in the 15th century.

The word "paper" is etymologically derived from papyros, Ancient Greek for the Cyperus papyrus plant. Papyrus is a thick, paper-like material produced from the pith of the Cyperus papyrus plant which was used in ancient Egypt and other Mediterranean cultures forwriting long before the making of paper in China.Papyrus however is a "lamination of natural plants, while paper is manufactured from fibres whose properties have been changed by maceration or disintegration.

File:Chinese hemp paper western han.jpg

Paper, Paper, and more Paper


You write on it, print on it, eat off of it, wrap your food in it.

Think about your lunch from a fast food restaurant:

Here is how paper relates to everything.

  1. Paperboard box to hold your burger
  2. Paperboard box to hold your fries
  3. Waxed paper to carry your drink
  4. Straw wrapped in paper to partake of your drink
  5. Napkin made of paper to wipe your face when you are done
  6. The coupon you found in the Sunday paper to give you a discount
  7. The cash that paid for the meal (linen paper, but paper nonetheless)
  8. The receipt you received after paying for your meal

And all that was jut off the top of my head.  Paper has changed our lives in so many ways that it would be impossible to list all the ways.  This blog is dedicated to this wonderous substance, whether made from wood, grass, cloth, skin, etc.  

Next up: The creation of Paper!