The Commencement of Paper

An article by Erica Alvarez

Before the invention of paper, the people of China used bamboo, animal bones, and silk to write on for record keeping and other documentation needs. Bamboo and animal bones, though handy, proved heavy and inconvenient to carry around. Likewise, costly silk . Cai Lun invented paper in the Han Dynasty, China around 105 AD. He created the first paper by using natural resources such as bamboo, hemp fibers, rags, and tree bark. To make this paper, Cai Lun put all the materials in water, mixed and beat them together, then drained all the water out and left the remains of the materials, cleaned them, and left them to dry. The dried materials resulted in a flat sheet that acted as an absorbent, smoother and more reliable writing surface. Cai Lun is said to be a politician and inventor from his time, he served on the court of the emperor, his title earned him wealth which made it possible for him to invent paper.

Paper had a massive impact on society considering it is still regularly used to this day. The initial impact it had on society though in 100 AD is that it allowed more people to have access to writing. There are ancient illustrations showing the creation and use of paper shown in museums, as well as fossils of the old paper. More books were written and more copies could be made. Paper would have been used for record keeping and documentation which allows for people today to study past civilizations and allows for a better understanding of their lifestyle.

Socially, paper made communication easier. As the innovation of paper spread to other countries, the creation of paper became altered and made with different resources and made in different (for the most part, better) ways. For example, now paper is thin and white and sold in bulk. Paper, though not the exact same as the original, allowed many topics such as mathematics, astronomy,  medicine, engineering, agriculture, religion, and literature to spread around the world. This became the best and most reliable resource for people from every walk of life to be able to learn and communicate. People from every continent are able to access the beliefs, philosophies, wisdom, and research of people from all over the world through paper. Communication through paper allowed these things, the recording and saving of ideas and stories. As for technology, paper later led to other technologies being invented such as the Gutenberg press in Europe in 1440 and the use of paper in the Tang Dynasty of China around 600 AD.

Word Count: 372



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