Paper (Invention)Paper - The Chinese have contributed several inventions to humanity throughout history. One of the earliest and most significant is paper. 105 is pegged as the year for its invention. A Chinese historian named Fan Hua (ca. 398-445) records that a court eunuch of the Eastern Han Dynasty by the name of Cai Lun (or Ts'ai Lun) developed the technique for making paper. He did so by extracting fibers from various plants, soaking them in water, and pounding the mixture with a mallet. He let it dry, and the material that was left was a thin durable surface that could be used for writing. Fan Hua records that Cai Lun thought the invention noteworthy enough to present to the emperor. Thus paper was born. With time, he experimented with several different plants including mulberry fibers, pulp from bamboo and hemp. However, archaeological discoveries made in northwest China and Tibet indicate that paper may have been invented even earlier; as early as the time of Emperor Wu. Regardless, until more definitive evidence is found, Cai Lun will be remembered as the first papermaker in history. Obviously writing was around long before the invention of paper, so many different materials were used. The most common was papyrus which was made from a reed plant found in wetlands, most notably the Nile River. Another material was the more durable parchment, which was made from animal skin.