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University of Texas Press, 1995 - History - 96 pages
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One of the most remarkable inventions of ancient Egypt was the making of "paper" from the papyrus plant. As early as 3000 B.C. sheets and rolls of papyrus provided an ideal surface for writing with a reed pen and pigments of carbon and red ocher. Egyptian scribes used papyrus for legal and administrative records, letters about business and personal life, as well as for literary texts and compendia of knowledge.
Religious hymns and litanies were recorded, as were the great collections of formulae to secure life after death, the Books of the Dead. The authors examine the methods of making and conserving papyrus, the various scripts written on it, the writing practices of the scribes, and the different uses of papyrus under the Pharaohs and their successors, the Ptolemies and the Roman emperors. Egypt has preserved much Greek literature and administrative writings, and papyrus remained the writing material of the Mediterranean world until it was eclipsed in the ninth century A.D. by cloth paper from the Orient, ending a tradition that had lasted four thousand years.

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A very good concise introduction to the subject of papyri. Nicely illustrated. Read full review

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About the author (1995)

R. B. Parkinson is Assistant Keeper in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum.

STEPHEN QUIRKE is Curator of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and Professor of Egyptian Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

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