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BYBLOS

BYBLOS (Βύβλος, Steph. B. sub voce Ctesias, ap. Phot. Bibl. ed. Bekker, p. 33; Eth. Byblites), a town of the Egyptian Delta, supposed by some to be the modern Babel. Byblos was seated in the marshes, and, as its name imports, was in the centre of a tract where the Byblus or Papyrus plant--Cyperus papyrus of Linnaeus, the Cyperus Antiquorum of recent botanists--grew in abundance. The root of the byblus furnished a coarse article of food, which the Greeks ridiculed the Egyptians for eating. (Aeschyl. Suppl. 768.) Its leaves and rind were manufactured into sandals and girdles for the inferior order of Egyptian priests, and into sailcloth for the Nile-barges (Theophr. Hist. Plant. 4.8); while its fibres and pellicles were wrought into the celebrated papyrus, which, until it was superseded by cotton paper or parchment about the eleventh century A. D., formed a principal article of Egyptian export, and the writing material of the civilised world. Pliny (13.11. s. 12) has left an elaborate description of the manufacture, and Cassiodorus (Epist. 11.38) a pompous panegyric of the Papyrus or Byblus plant. Its history is also well described by Prosper Alpinus, in his work “de Medicina Aegyptiorum.”

[W.B.D]

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