Real Papyrus Paper samples from Egypt. You get 10 scraps of papyrus about 1 inch to 4 inches in size. Over 4,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians discovered how to make paper from the papyrus plants that grew along the Nile River. The papyrus plant can grow up to 12 feet tall. The papyrus plant mainly grows in the Nile delta, and was also used to make boats, sandals, mats, ropes, and baskets. We get our word “paper” from “papyrus.” The papyrus stem is cut and peeled leaving a white inner part called pith which is sliced very thin and then soaked in water. The strips are laid down in alternating direction then rolled and beaten. This releases the sap that binds the papyrus together. The sheets were then placed between mats with heavy stones on top to squeeze the water out. Once dry they were scrubbed clean.