Papermaking is known to have been started in China. A recent archaeological discovery has been reported from Gangsu province of paper with legible Chinese writings on it, dating from 8 BC, while paper had been used in China for wrapping and padding since the 2nd century BC. Paper used as a writing medium became widespread by the 3rd century.
In the 8th century, paper spread to the Islamic World, where the rudimentary and laborious process of papermaking was refined and machinery was designed for bulk manufacturing of paper. Production began in Samarkand, Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, Morocco then Muslim Spain.
In general, Muslims invented a method to make a thicker sheet of paper. This helped transform papermaking from an art into a major industry.
The earliest use of water-powered mills in paper production, specifically the use of pulp mills for preparing the pulp for papermaking, dates back to Samarkand in the 8th century.
The earliest references to paper mills also come from the medieval Islamic world, where they were first noted in the 9th century by Arabic geographers in Damascus.
Papermaking was diffused across the Islamic world, from where it was diffused further west into Europe.
The paper arrived in Europe from Damascus trough Spain (Xativa, 1144) and Italy (Fabriano, approx 1250)
Modern papermaking began in the early 19th century in Europe with the development of the Fourdrinier machine, which produces a continuous roll of paper rather than individual sheets. This would end the nearly 2,000-year use of pulped rags and start a new era for the production of newsprint and eventually almost all paper was made out of pulped wood.
Nowday these machines are engineering wonders considerably large, up to 150 meters in length, produce up to 11,0 meters wide sheet, able to run in excess of 120 km/h.
The jumbo paper roll produced can weight in excess of 100 Tons.