Main article: History of paper
Hemp wrapping paper, China, circa 100 BCE.
The oldest known archaeological fragments of the immediate precursor to modern paper date to 2nd century BC in China. The pulp papermaking process is ascribed to Cai Lun, a 2nd century AD Han court eunuch. With paper an effective substitute for silk in many applications, China could export silk in greater quantity, contributing to a Golden Age.
Paper spread from China through the Middle East to medieval Europe in the 13th century, where the first water-powered paper mills were built. In the 19th century, industrial manufacture greatly lowered its cost, enabling mass exchange of information and contributing to significant cultural shifts. In 1844, Canadian inventor Charles Fenerty and German F.G. Keller independently developed processes for pulping wood fibers.
Further information: Papyrus
The word "paper" is etymologically derived from Latin papyrus, which comes from the Greek πάπυρος (papuros), the word for the Cyperus papyrus plant. Papyrus is a thick, paper-like material produced from the pith of the Cyperus papyrus plant which was used in ancient Egypt and other Mediterranean cultures for writing before the introduction of paper into the Middle East and Europe. Although paper is etymologically derived from papyrus, the two are produced very differently and the development of modern paper is separate from the development of papyrus. Papyrus is a "lamination of natural plants, while paper is manufactured from fibres whose properties have been changed by maceration or disintegration.
Main article: Papermaking
Main articles: kraft process, sulfite process, and soda pulping
To make pulp from wood, a chemical pulping process separates lignin from cellulose fibers. This is accomplished by dissolving lignin in a cooking liquor, so that it may be washed from the cellulose fibers. This preserves the length of