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papyrus

papyrus (pəpī´rəs), a sedge (Cyperus papyrus), now almost extinct in Egypt but so universally used there in antiquity as to be the hieroglyphic symbol for Lower Egypt and a common motif in art. The roots were used as fuel; the pith was eaten. The stem was employed for sandals, boats, twine, boxes, mats, sails, cloth and most notably as a writing material (used in Egypt until the introduction of paper there in the 8th cent. and exported throughout the Mediterranean world). This writing material, which was also called papyrus, was formed into sheets by laying lengthwise slices of the sedge side by side in two layers at right angles and pressing them together with an adhesive probably composed of their own juices and Nile water. The sheets were glued end to end and rolled on wooden rods to form manuscripts. Many examples have been recovered, especially in Egypt, and have furnished valuable literary and historical matter in Greek and other languages. The science of papyrology is concerned with the study of these documents. Papyrus is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Cyperales, family Cyperaceae.

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papyrus

papyrus a material prepared in ancient Egypt from the pithy stem of the water plant papyrus, a tall aquatic sedge native to central Africa and the Nile valley, used in sheets throughout the ancient Mediterranean world for writing or painting on and also for making articles such as rope, sandals, and boats.

To form a sheet of writing material, the stem of the papyrus plant was sliced into thin strips which were laid side by side, with another layer of similar strips crossing them, usually followed by a third parallel to the first. The whole was then soaked in water, pressed, and dried.

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papyrus

pa·py·rus / pəˈpīrəs/ • n. (pl. papyri / -rī/ or papyruses ) 1. a material prepared in ancient Egypt from the pithy stem of a water plant, used in sheets throughout the ancient Mediterranean world for writing or painting on and also for making rope, sandals, and boats. ∎  a document written on papyrus. 2. the tall aquatic sedge (Cyperus papyrus) from which this material is obtained, native to central Africa and the Nile valley.

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papyrus

papyrus Stout, perennial water plant, native to s Europe, n Africa, and the Middle East, used by the ancient Egyptians to make a paper-like writing material. Strips of the stem were arranged in layers, crushed and hammered to form a loosely textured, porous kind of paper. Height: to 4.5m (15ft). Family Cyperaceae; species Cyperus papyrus.

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papyrus

papyrus kind of sedge from which ancient writing material was made XIV; writing material so prepared XVIII. — L. papȳrus — Gr. pápūros paper-rush, of unkn. orig. The comb. form is papyro-, as in papyrology, papyrologist (XIX).

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papyrus

papyrus. Decoration based on stylized versions of the flowers and leaves of the paperreed (Cyperus papyrus), often found in Ancient Egyptian architecture, notably on capitals.

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papyrus

papyrus See CYPERUS.

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papyrus

papyrusArras, embarrass, harass •gynandrous, polyandrous •Pancras • charas • Tatras • disastrous •ferrous • leprous • ambidextrous •Carreras, mayoress •scabrous •cirrus, Pyrrhus •chivalrous •citrous, citrus •ludicrous • tenebrous •Cyrus, Epirus, papyrus, virus •fibrous • hydrous • Cyprus •retrovirus • monstrous •brachiosaurus, brontosaurus, canorous, chorus, Epidaurus, Horus, megalosaurus, pelorus, porous, sorus, stegosaurus, Taurus, thesaurus, torus, tyrannosaurus •walrus •ochrous (US ocherous) •cumbrous • wondrous • lustrous •Algeciras, Severus •desirous •Arcturus, Epicurus, Honduras •barbarous • tuberous • slumberous •Cerberus • rapturous •lecherous, treacherous •torturous • vulturous • Pandarus •slanderous • ponderous •malodorous, odorous •thunderous • murderous •carboniferous, coniferous, cruciferous, melliferous, odoriferous, pestiferous, somniferous, splendiferous, umbelliferous, vociferous •phosphorous, phosphorus •sulphurous (US sulfurous) •Anaxagoras, Pythagorasclangorous, languorous •rigorous, vigorous •dangerous • verdurous •cankerous, cantankerous, rancorous •decorous • Icarus • valorous •dolorous • idolatrous •amorous, clamorous, glamorous •timorous •humerus, humorous, numerous •murmurous • generous • sonorous •onerous • obstreperous • Hesperus •vaporous • viviparous • viperous •Bosporus, prosperous •stuporous • cancerous •Monoceros, rhinoceros •sorcerous • adventurous • Tartarus •nectarous • dexterous • traitorous •preposterous • slaughterous •boisterous, roisterous •uterus • adulterous • stertorous •cadaverous • feverous •carnivorous, herbivorous, insectivorous, omnivorous •Lazarus

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Papyrus

PAPYRUS

The plant Cyperus papyrus grows in the swamps of Israel. It was formerly very widespread in Lower Egypt and in old Egyptian drawings symbolized the region. The use of papyrus was very varied; it was employed for boats, utensils, shoes, and paper, and its soft stalks were also used as food. In the Bible it is called gomë (גׂמֶא) or eveh (אֵבֵה), and in the Mishnah papir or neyar. Gomë was used for making the ark of Moses (Ex. 2:3). Boats which sailed beyond the rivers of Ethiopia were made of it (Isa. 18:2). Together with the *reed(kaneh) it grew near marshes and swamps, and Isaiah (35:7) prophesied that both would grow in the desert. The Book of Job (8:11–12) notes that papyrus cannot grow without swamp, that it shrivels up in the winter when the grass begins to go green, and that then it is ready for harvesting. The Tosefta speaks of papyrus vessels being more valuable than those made of plaited wicker (Kel. bm 5:15). Papyrus barrels were also made (Kel. 2:5), as well as clothes, "a shirt of papyrus" (Tosef., Kel. bb 5: 2) serving as clothes for the poor (Gen. R. 37:8). The main use of papyrus was in the manufacture of paper, especially in the era of the Mishnah and Talmud. Paper was made from the stalk, which bears the inflorescence, and which was cut into fine strips and stuck together in length and in breadth with glue – the kolon shel soferim ("scribes' glue"; Gr. Κὸλλα, glue) which contained leaven and was therefore forbidden on Passover (Pes. 3:1, 42b). The Jerusalem Talmud (Pes. 3:1, 29d) notes that in Alexandria this glue was prepared in large vessels. According to Josephus (Ant., 14:33) there was a place called Papyron near the Jordan. Gemi is frequently mentioned in the Mishnah and Talmud as material for the making of baskets, mats, and ropes. It is possible that papyrus (gomë) is also included in this name (cf. Rashi to Ex. 2:3), though it seems that it generally also refers to the fibers of other plants. The Bible once mentions eveh ships as being light and swift (Job 9:25–26). This word is connected with the Akkadian apu, the name of swamp plants used for weaving, including the papyrus.

Nowadays papyrus has almost disappeared from lower Egypt. In Israel it used to grow over the large expanse of the Ḥuleh swamp, where the Arab villagers earned their livelihoods by weaving mats from it. With the draining of these swamps only a few acres of papyrus remain in the local nature reserve. The papyrus is a perennial, growing to a height of up to 15 feet. The triple shaft of the inflorescence is 2½–3½ inches thick at the base and from it the papyrus strips were made. The plant dies in winter, and the stalks rot. The peat in the Ḥuleh is formed from the layers of the rotted plants.

bibliography:

Loew, Flora, 1 (1926), 558–71; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 294–7; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), 318 (index), s.v.add bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Tzome'aḥ, 42.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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