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Papyrus

PAPYRUS (pa-pī'rŭs, Gr. papyros). A plantlike reed or rush that grows in swamps and along rivers or lakes, often to the height of twelve feet (almost four m.) with beautiful flowers at the top. The stalk is triangular in shape, something like a giant celery stalk. In ancient times it was found mainly along the Nile in Egypt but was also known in Palestine. For commercial use the stalk was cut into sections about one foot (one-third m.) long, and these pieces were then sliced lengthwise into thin strips, which were shaped and squared and laid edge to edge to form a larger piece. Other strips were laid horizontally over these strips and both were pressed together, dried in the sun, scraped, and rubbed until there emerged a smooth yellowish sheet much like our heavy wrapping paper, only thicker and heavier. The juice of the pith served as the glue, but sometimes other paste was added.