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  1. A tall, stout aquatic plant (Cyperus papyrus, family Cyperaceae) of the sedge family, formerly abundant in Egypt. It recurs as a decorative motif in ancient Egyptian art and architecture, notably in columns and capitals. It was also used for making sails, baskets, and clothing, and the pith as food.

  2. A kind of paper made from its pith or stems.


How papyrus was made

The ancient Egyptians wrote on papyrus. To prepare it they used papyrus reed which grows on the banks of the Nile.

The long stem of the papyrus was cut open and the pith was cut vertically into long, thin strips. These strips were dried and then laid vertically and transversely to make a sheet of paper. The paste used to stick the strips together was flour. The sheet was lightly beaten, dried in the sun, and polished with cedar oil.

How papyrus was prepared
The stages in preparing papyrus