FACTS: 7 Whole Days to Make One Sheet Of Paper?

Egyptian papyrus paper

Did you know it took 7 whole days to make a sheet of paper in ancient Egypt? No wonder most people wrote on pottery shards! Read about paper making in this excerpt from my book, Mystery of the Egyptian Scroll.

    "Do you want me to show you how it's done?" Padus asked.
    "That would be great!" Zet said.
     Padus led them to the corner where several tall stalks of papyrus rested against the wall. He explained that he first peeled away the outer fibers, to get to the soft pith inside. Using a blade, he peeled one a little to show them.
     The pith inside was pale yellowish-white, and much softer.
    "Then I cut the pith-core in long strips. I make them as thin as possible. Of course, the center strips are the best because they're the widest. But I try to use as much as possible."
     The next step, after the strips had been cut, was to soak them in water.
    "That's what's in the buckets?" Kat asked. Her color had begun to return.
     He nodded. [...]
    "Now, I lift the slices out like so, and lay them across the floor. As you can see, they're very soft and spongy."
    "And almost transparent," Kat said.
    "Exactly. That's what we want. Sometimes I cut them to the length I want at this point, but usually I just pound them flat like so." He hammered them with the mallet. The slices grew flatter and wider.
    "The last step is simply to lay a number of them side by side in a giant sheet, overlapping just a bit. Then I add a second layer at right angles to the first. When that's done, I pound the whole sheet, and leave it to dry for around six days or so. The sugar inside the plant makes it stick together. This big piece is around half dry. When it's ready, I'll cut it up into a dozen or more sheets."
    "That's a lot of work!" Kat said. "No wonder papyrus is so expensive."
     Padus nodded.
    "Speaking of papyrus," Zet said. "We found out what's on the stolen scroll."

pages 48-49