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The history of paper is closely related to the development of writing, since the need of giving expression to this ability and spreading knowledge throughout humankind, along with its perpetuation in time provokes a search for tough, durable materials. These ones need to be light –to be easily transported- and reduced in size –to be easily stored-. These requirements made it possible for Cai Lun (Tsai Lun, T-sai Lun) to invent and develop the kind of paper with similar characteristics that we know today.

To understand this better, we are going to go through a brief history of writing and the materials used for its expression.

Mesopotamia

cuneiform script and on clay plates.

1. Discovery of writing in Mesopotamia (5280 years ago)

The name Mesopotamia has a Greek origin, and it means “between rivers”. This is the area in the Near East which is located between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. This area also covers the fertile territory between the two river strips. Nowadays, this is the area of Iraq which is not a desert and the one bordering on Syria to the northeast.

The first manuscript was discovered here. It was cuneiform script and on clay plates.

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