The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Shorter Notes

Pliny the Elder on the making of papyrus paper

Andrew D. Dimarogonasa1

a1 Washington University at St Louis

Pliny the Elder in Natural History, xiii, 74–82, described in detail specifications for the manufacturing of papyrus. However, there was a spurious omission pertaining to the height (the term length was also used by some authors) of the manufactured sheet in sentence 78. Johnson has listed the different theories explaining this as an oversight or that a standard height-to-width ratio existed, thus making the specification of the height redundant. The latter is not substantiated by the measurement of the dimensions of extant papyrus rolls. Johnson proposed a more rational theory, that it was most important to specify the width but this does not explain the absence of any specification of height, even as a measurement of secondary importance.