Did Ancient Greece Write on Paper?

In ancient Greece, writing was an essential part of society. But did the ancient Greeks write on paper? The answer might surprise you.

The Origins of Writing in Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks were pioneers in many fields, including philosophy, art, and literature. They valued the written word and developed their unique writing system known as the Greek alphabet around the 9th century BCE.

Fun Fact: The Greek alphabet is the precursor to many modern alphabets, including the Latin alphabet used in English!

Writing Surfaces in Ancient Greece

While paper as we know it today did not exist in ancient Greece, they used various materials as writing surfaces. These materials included:

  • Papyrus: Papyrus was a popular choice for writing in ancient Greece. It was made from the papyrus plant, which grew along the Nile River in Egypt. Sheets of papyrus were created by overlapping thin strips of the plant’s stem and pressing them together.
  • Pottery: Ancient Greeks also wrote on pottery using a technique called “black-figure” and “red-figure” painting. These intricate designs often depicted scenes from mythology or daily life.
  • Animal Skins: Another common writing surface was animal skins, particularly parchment made from sheep or goat skins.

    Parchment was durable and could be easily folded or rolled up.

  • Wax Tablets: Wax tablets were portable and reusable writing surfaces. They consisted of a wooden frame with wax poured into it. Writing was done by engraving letters into the wax with a stylus.

The Role of Libraries

Ancient Greece was also home to a vibrant library culture. Libraries, such as the famous Library of Alexandria, played a significant role in preserving and disseminating knowledge. These libraries housed a vast collection of scrolls, which were made from papyrus or parchment.


While the ancient Greeks did not write on paper as we do today, they used various materials like papyrus, pottery, animal skins, and wax tablets for their writing needs. The development of the Greek alphabet revolutionized communication and paved the way for future writing systems.

Next time you pick up a pen and paper, remember that you are continuing an ancient tradition that dates back thousands of years!