Paper is thought to have been invented in ancient China around the 2nd century BC. According to tradition, the paper was invented by a court official named Cai Lun during the Han Dynasty.
Before the invention of paper, people in ancient China wrote on tablets made from bamboo or silk cloth. These materials were expensive and not widely available, so Cai Lun was asked to find cheaper and more widely available writing material. He is credited with inventing a process for making paper from plant fibers, such as bamboo, hemp, and rags.
Cai Lun’s method for making paper involved pulping the plant fibers, forming the pulp into sheets, and pressing and drying the sheets to create a final product that was lightweight, strong, and suitable for writing. This process was an improvement over earlier methods of making paper, and it quickly spread throughout China and other parts of Asia.
Papermaking eventually spread to the Arab world and Europe, where it was further developed and refined. Today, paper is made in a similar way to the way it was made by Cai Lun in ancient China, using a variety of plant fibers and modern equipment.