Plant of the sedge family. It was widespread in the uncultivated, swampy areas of the ancient Nile Valley and was exploited for many practical purposes including the making of baskets and boats. As a material for the use of scribes and artists, it has a history going back to at least the 3rd millennium BC. This article focuses on the manufacture and history of papyrus as a material used in writing and painting. Gathering Papyrus Stalks, from a relief on the north wall. Little direct evidence has survived from the dynastic period regarding methods of manufacture and the organization of the papyrus trade, and caution is necessary when applying to earlier periods the relatively copious evidence from Greco-Roman Egypt. Ancient Egyptian tomb reliefs, illustrating scenes of daily life, show only the gathering of bundles of papyrus stalks. Papyrus was probably manufactured at all periods by numerous small workshops, close to sources of supply. These workshops must always have been most abundant in the Delta and Faiyum, but papyrus may also have been made elsewhere.
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