The Egyptians were not far behind in developing writing, but we cannot follow the history of their writing in detail because they used a perishable writing material. In ancient times the banks of the Nile were lined with papyrus plants, and from the papyrus reeds the Egyptians made a form of paper; it was excellent in quality but, like any paper, fragile. Mesopotamia’s rivers boasted no such useful reeds, but its land did provide good clay, and as a consequence the clay tablet became the standard material. Though clumsy and bulky it has a virtue dear to archaeologists: it is durable. Fire, for example, which is death to papyrus paper or other writing materials such as leather and wood, simply bakes it hard, thereby making it even more durable.