Papyrus was one of the earliest types of paper invented. (The word paper derives from the word papyrus.) Created from a reed that grew along the banks of the Nile River, it produced a coarse, paperlike writing medium used by the Egyptians and other ancient cultures in the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East. In Ancient Egypt, papyrus played an important role and greatly influenced the Egyptian society. Egypt had a monopoly on papyrus because the production method was kept secret after it had been developed around 4000 B.C.