Some forms of pressed plant material predate modern paper by thousands of years. In Egypt during the first dynasty paper was made from the papyrus plant around 3,000 B.C.E. This plant is a reed that grows (or grew) along the Nile river and the Mediterranean. This plant was also used by the Egyptians to fashion boats, mattresses, mats, sandals, rope and baskets.
Only the inner bark of the plant is used to make paper. This "bark" is called pith and it was typically mashed flat, cut into thin strips and the strips placed on a hard surface, overlapping, to dry. Once dried another layer of pith was applied but at right angles to the first.
During this second stage of production, the addition of a layer of papyrus at right angles, the paper might be pounded with a flat object and then pressed together between two flat surfaces to dry. Finally the papyrus, once dry, would be polished with a flat stone or seashell to give it a smooth writing surface.
Though this is a lot of hand work, all this preparation was still cheaper and easier to produce than velum (animal skin) or parchment (another name for velum), though both of these materials are much more durable. Finally, the climate in Egypt makes this form of paper very durable and long lasting.