How Were Books Written in Ancient Times?

Throughout history, the written word has played a crucial role in the dissemination of knowledge and ideas. Books have been a primary medium for preserving and sharing knowledge, but have you ever wondered how books were written in ancient times? Let’s take a closer look.

The First Books

The first books were made by hand on materials such as papyrus, parchment, and clay tablets. The process of creating these books was time-consuming and required a great deal of skill. The earliest known form of writing was hieroglyphics used by the ancient Egyptians.

They wrote on papyrus which was made from strips cut from the stem of the papyrus plant. These strips were soaked in water, then laid out horizontally and vertically to create a grid-like structure. The reeds were then pressed together to form a sheet.

Writing on Parchment

Parchment was another material that was commonly used for book-making in ancient times. It was made from animal skin, usually sheep or goat. The skin was first soaked in water to remove any hair or flesh, then stretched over a wooden frame and scraped with a curved knife until it was smooth and thin enough to write on.


Ink was made from various substances depending on the time period and location. One common ink recipe involved mixing carbon black with gum arabic and water. This mixture created a durable black ink that could be used for writing on both papyrus and parchment.

Writing Tools

Writing tools varied depending on the material being written on. For example, scribes who wrote on papyrus used reed pens which were made by cutting a reed at an angle to create a sharp point. Scribes who wrote on parchment used quills which were made by cutting feathers at an angle to create a sharp point.

Binding Books

After the writing was completed, the pages were sewn together and bound between two covers. The covers were often made of wood or leather and decorated with intricate designs. The binding process was a skilled task and required a great deal of patience and attention to detail.


In conclusion, ancient book-making was a complex process that required a great deal of skill and craftsmanship. From the materials used to the tools employed, every aspect of book-making was carefully considered to create a durable, functional, and visually appealing product. Today, we take for granted the ease with which we can produce books, but it’s important to remember the ingenuity and dedication that went into creating books in ancient times.