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Villagers Give Mesmerizing Demonstration of How Ancient Civilization Made Paper

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When technology started taking off in truly global ways a dozen or even 20 years ago, we began hearing bold predictions about the possibility of a paperless society. For a while, it seemed like a pretty foregone conclusion.

And sure, nobody uses those annoying pink “while you were out” slips anymore. Similarly, those Post-It note piles stuck all over desks have been mostly replaced by a virtual army of apps.

But paper, in many ways, is still alive and well. Many folks continue to clip coupons, take manual notes, or read physical books instead of buying a Kindle.

Simple nostalgia? Maybe — but behavioral studies also suggest that using “hard copy” materials may be more effective when it comes to learning and remembering.

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According to paperonline.org, paper is actually the most widely used writing material on the planet. And maybe our forefathers were onto something, because this use actually extends all the way back to ancient Egypt and China.

If you’re looking for an interesting demonstration — or maybe just a relaxing break from a hectic week — there’s a fascinating video you should check out. Two villagers on a YouTube channel called “Survival Skills Primitive” prove that ancient paper making was both an art and a science.

Apparently, it was also kind of a workout. As these skilled craftsmen illustrate, the primitive process began by harvesting bark from a tree.

This bark was sliced into long strips, which were then folded into a clay pot and submerged in river water. This container, in the video, was simply left to sit out in open nature.

After a time, the water was drained. Then an ashy clay compound was added, along with more water.

The resulting mixture was covered, then warmed over an open fire. Once the contents had “cooked” for a bit, they were hammered with a log and then rinsed.

This process resulted in a damp pile vaguely resembling pulled pork. The pile was shredded, then pounded with a crude mortar and pestle until it became a pliable pulp.

Next, the pulp was simmered with additional river water over a flame. More ashy clay was blended in, until the mixture looked a little like a comforting bowl of oatmeal.

But clearly, this concoction wasn’t meant for eating. It was spread flat over a hot stone, then rolled by hand into a thin sheet.

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This sheet was slowly baked — until it resembled the speckled, antique parchment-style paper you might remember seeing in school textbooks. Even though the social media video was edited down to just a few minutes in length, the entire process likely took hours.

That’s something to appreciate next time you grab a standard sheet of printer paper. Today’s automated process owes a lot to the ancestral craftsmen who took such careful pride in their work.

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Mary Bittel is a professional writer, marketer, and published author. She's produced content for several respected media organizations, and dozens of major industries including education, animal welfare, healthcare, finance, non-profit, technology, and entertainment. As an accomplished musician, she's also worked in a therapeutic teaching capacity with developmentally disabled children.
Mary Bittel is a professional writer, marketer, and published author. She's produced content for several respected media organizations, and dozens of major industries including education, animal welfare, healthcare, finance, non-profit, technology, and entertainment. As an accomplished musician, she's also worked in a therapeutic teaching capacity with developmentally disabled children. Additionally, she's an avid animal lover who has spent much of her life rehabilitating abused rescue canines.
Books Written
"The Hidden Treasury: Stories of Wonders and Wanderings"
Location
Illinois
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Music, Marketing, Nutrition, Fitness, Pet Care/Behavior, Cooking, Entertainment




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