John Gaudet: The History of Paper, from its Origins in Egypt to its Spread Throughout the Western World

Friday, September 14, 2018

6:30 p.m.—Pre-lecture reception ($5.00 per person)

6:30 p.m.—Book signing 

7:00 p.m.—Lecture (free)


The birth of the global information age is one of the world’s most astonishing and exciting stories. It’s a tale of human endeavor that starts in the Stone Age and continues almost to the time of Gutenberg—a span representing three-fourths of recorded history.

     Humans have always searched for new ways to share information. This innate compulsion led to the origin of writing on the walls of caves and coffin lids or carving on tablets. But the ability to record and transmit information exploded with the advent of papyrus paper, allowing for an exchange of ideas from the banks of the Nile throughout the Mediterranean and the civilized Western world. The story of this material that was prized by both kings and scholars reveals how papyrus paper is more than a relic of our ancient past, but a key to understanding how ideas and information shaped humanity in the ancient and early modern world.

    Gaudet’s illustrated lecture is based on his new book, The Pharaoh’s Treasure. The audience will have an opportunity to see and feel modern examples of ancient Egyptian paper used to make the first Christian Bibles as well as samples of ancient parchment and handmade pulp paper.  

Book signing

In conjunction with his talk, the speaker will sign copies of The Pharaoh’s Treasure: The Origin of Paper and the Rise of Western Civilization. A limited number of copies will be available at the venue for purchase, at a price of $26 each. Please email Carol Boyer if you would like to reserve one.


John Gaudet is a writer, lecturer, and ecologist who earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. A Fulbright Scholar to both India and Malaya, he is the author of many scientific papers on the ecology and development of papyrus swamps. His early research on the plant, funded in part by the National Geographic Society, took him to Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, and many other places in Africa where papyrus grows. His writings have appeared in Science, Nature, Ecology, The Washington, and Huffington Post. Gaudet is also the author of Papyrus, The Plant that Changed the World: From Ancient Egypt to Today's Water Wars.


505 East Braddock Rd., Alexandria, VA 22314
(across the street from the Braddock Road station on Metro’s blue and yellow lines)
Venue sponsored by  Maria and Richard Calderon in association with Hands Along the Nile Development Services Inc. (HANDS)



During the pre-lecture reception, there will be a raffle for Egyptian-themed items such as books, journals, jewelry, and DVDs. ARCE-DC members receive a free raffle ticket for each one they buy. 

Meet-the-Speaker and Networking Dinner—

After the lecture, join ARCE-DC members and guests for a dinner with the speaker. We will meet at Lena's Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap, just a few blocks away. Each attendee pays for his or her own dinner and contributes an extra $5.00 to defray the cost of the speaker's meal.  Please RSVP to Carol Boyer at