Paper was invented by the ancient Chinese in the 2nd century BC and spread slowly to the west. Papermaking and manufacturing in Europe started in the Iberian Peninsula, in the 10th century by the Muslims and slowly spread to Italy and South France reaching Germany by 1400.
In medieval Europe, the papermaking was mechanized by the use of waterpower, the first water papermill in the Iberian Peninsula having been built in the Portuguese city of Leiria in 1411, and other processes. The rapid expansion of European paper production was truly enhanced by the invention of the printing press and the beginning of the Printing Revolution in the 15th century.
The word “paper” is etymologically derived from papyros, Ancient Greek for the Cyperus papyrus plant. Papyrus is a thick, paper-like material produced from the pith of the Cyperus papyrus plant which was used in ancient Egypt and other Mediterranean cultures for writing long before the making of paper in China. Papyrus however is a “lamination of natural plants, while paper is manufactured from fibres whose properties have been changed by maceration or disintegration.