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Guided Tour of Ancient Egypt
by Darlene Bishop, Kent School District, WA
Original Text © Darlene Bishop

Papyrus & Lotus Flower

Papyrus is a reed which grew abundantly along the banks of the Nile in Lower Egypt and, in fact, became the symbol for Ancient Lower Egypt. When looking at a cross section of the papyrus reed, it appears to be triangular in shape. The ancient Egyptians repeated this shape in many aspects of their life and artwork including the Pyramids at Giza. The reed itself served several purposes. The most familiar, is the paper on which to write. The Egyptians would cut the reeds into approximately eighteen inch sections, then roll or press the fiber of the reeds so as to eliminate the water and flatten the reed. The fibers were then laid side by side and a second layer either placed over the top at right angles or basket woven with the first layer. The sheet was placed between pieces of fabric and pressed between heavy stone slabs for six days. As the papyrus sheet dried, it became a substantial piece of paper for writing and painting. The oldest known books today are in the form of papyrus rolls. As mentioned, the papyrus had other uses as well. It was used for mattresses on beds, for building chairs, tables, and other furniture as well as for boats.

The lotus flower was the symbol of Upper Egypt and can be seen repeatedly in various hieroglyphics on tomb and temple walls and as the tall white crown worn by the king of Upper Egypt. It looked very much like a white bowling pin.

Seen here is a picture of a lotus flower.


Table of Contents >> Middle Kingdom (2080-1640 BCE)


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