How Was Paper Made in Ancient Times?

Paper is an essential part of our daily lives, but have you ever wondered how it was made in ancient times? Let’s take a look at the fascinating history of paper production!

Origins of Paper Making

The earliest known example of paper was discovered in China dating back to the 2nd century BC. It was made from mulberry bark and other plant fibers, and it was called “T’sai Lun.”

The Process

The process of making paper in ancient times was a complex one, involving several steps.

Step 1: Harvesting the Fiber
The first step was to harvest the plant fibers. These could be obtained from various sources such as trees, bark, and grasses.

Step 2: Soaking and Boiling
Next, the fibers were soaked in water for several days to soften them. They were then boiled in a mixture of water and ash or lime to break down the fibers.

Step 3: Beating and Pounding
After boiling, the fibers were beaten and pounded with wooden mallets or stone hammers to create a pulp. This pulp was then mixed with water to form a slurry.

Step 4: Making the Paper
The slurry was poured onto a flat surface such as a table or screen and spread out evenly using a brush. The excess water was drained away, leaving behind a thin layer of pulp. This layer was then pressed and dried to create paper.

Paper Making Spreads Around the World

Paper making quickly spread throughout Asia and eventually reached Europe during the 12th century. In Europe, paper was initially made from rags instead of plant fibers.

  • France: The first paper mill in France opened in Troyes in 1498.
  • Germany: The first paper mill in Germany opened in Nuremberg in 1390.
  • England: The first paper mill in England opened in Stevenage in 1498.


In conclusion, the process of making paper has come a long way since its origins in ancient China. From mulberry bark and plant fibers to rags and wood pulp, paper is now a ubiquitous material that we use every day. It’s fascinating to think about the history and evolution of this essential product!