Papyrus

Image["Vignette from Ramose Book of the Dead"]

Ramose receiving a shabti figure from a
jackal-headed god.
From Spell 6 'for causing a shabti (to work)',
Book of the Dead of Ramose

Papyrus is a plant (Cyperus papyrus), rather like a reed, which used to grow in Egypt . In ancient times, the Egyptians used it to make small, light-weight boats, sandals, mats and baskets, as well as a paper-like material for writing on.

This writing material is also known as papyrus. Sheets of papyrus were often stuck together to form long rolls (scrolls) for lengthy documents like Books of the Dead. Documents written on papyrus are known as papyri. Although they are made from a plant, the very dry climate of Egypt has meant that many examples of papyri have survived from the past. The oldest example of a roll of papyrus (without writing) dates to about 2985 BC, and the oldest written papyrus document comes from about 2495 BC.

Follow the links below to find out more about papyrus:

the plant

the writing material


The Fitzwilliam Museum : What is papyrus?

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Passport to the Egyptian Afterlife
The Book of the Dead of Ramose

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