The Egyptian Hieroglyphs script was one of the ancient Egyptians’ recording methods for expressing their language. Because of its graphic beauty, Herodotus and other significant Greeks considered Egyptian hieroglyphs to be divine, referring to them as “holy writing.” Hieroglyph is derived from the Greek words hiero ‘holy’ and glypho ‘writing.’ Hieroglyphs were known in ancient Egypt as medu netjer, or “the gods’ words,” because it was thought that writing was invented by the gods.
The script was made up of three sorts of signs: logograms, which represented words, phonograms, which represented sounds, and determinatives, which were placed at the end of words to assist clarify their meaning. As a result, the Egyptians utilized many more signs than alphabetical systems, with over a thousand different hieroglyphs used at first and then decreased to around 750 throughout the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BCE). Through using 2nd century BCE Rosetta Stone with its triple inscription of Hieroglyphic, Demotic, and Greek, Frenchman Jean-François Champollion famously translated hieroglyphs in the 1820s CE. Egyptian hieroglyphs can be read in two ways: in columns from top to bottom or in lines from right to left.
Origin of Egyptian Hieroglyphs
The origin of Egyptian hieroglyphs, like that of most ancient scripts, is unknown. There have, however, been a number of possibilities proposed. One of the more persuasive theories claims that they are descended from prehistoric hunting societies dwelling in the desert west of the Nile, who were evidently conversant with the concept of visual communication. Some of the designs displayed on these rock paintings can also be found on early Predynastic Egyptian ceramic vessels. This is particularly noticeable during the Naqada II era (c. 3500-3200 BCE). The items were buried in graves, and the oldest clearly dated examples of Egyptian hieroglyphs have been discovered in tombs from the Naqada III/Dynasty 0 period (c. 3200-3000 BCE).
Around 3100 BCE, a member of the local nobility was buried at Abydos’ cemetery U, tomb j. He was a wealthy guy, most likely a monarch, and he was buried with a large number of jars, an ivory scepter, and other valuables. Many of these artifacts were taken, and we only know about them because of the roughly 150 surviving labels, which represent Egypt’s oldest known writing.
Material form and use of writing
The labels discovered in the Abydos U-j tomb were engraved on little rectangles of wood or ivory with a notch in one corner, allowing them to be attached to various items. Other inscribed surfaces found in early royal tombs include ceramic, metal, and stone (both flakes and stelae).
Papyrus, Egypt’s primary portable writing medium, first emerges during the First Dynasty (c. 3000-2890 BCE), with the first known example coming from a blank roll discovered in the Tomb of Hemaka, a King Den administrator. Papyrus and other alternate writing surfaces, such as writing boards made of wood, were utilized by Egyptian scribes. These were in use until the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty (1550-1295 BCE). A layer of white plaster was applied to the boards, which could be washed and replastered, creating a reusable surface. Clay tablets, a prominent medium in Mesopotamia, were discovered in the Dakhla Oasis, far away from the numerous areas where papyrus was made, dated from the late Old Kingdom (2686-2160 BCE).
Other materials utilized for writing included bone, metal, and leather. Leather inscriptions from the New Kingdom (1550-1069 BCE) have also been discovered, but because leather preservation is inferior to papyrus, it is impossible to say how widely leather was employed.
Letters and Number
The inscriptions discovered at Abydos contain a variety of data: some are numbers, others are thought to identify the origin of the products, and the most complicated reflect administrative information relating to the ruler’s economic activity. Signs seen on pottery and stone vessels (as well as labels attached to them) were employed in Dynasty 0 tombs to denote ownership of its contents, most likely in connection with taxation and other accounting data. Because these pot-marks are thought to express information about the contents of the pots (including their provenance), this trend may represent an increase in the complexity of record keeping and effective supervision.
We find examples of scribbling in the context of royal art to memorialize royal achievements during the Late Predynastic/Early Dynastic transition (c. 3000 BCE). Writing may be seen on ceremonial moleheads, grave stone stelae, and votive palettes in this example; the purpose of these artifacts was to honor the rulers’ memory, both in terms of their accomplishments during their lives and their relationships with various deities. The oldest surviving examples of Egyptian literature, the “Pyramid Texts,” were etched on the walls of pyramids circa 2500 BCE, and subsequently, around 2000 BCE, a new sort of text described as the Coffin Texts, a set of magical and liturgical rituals inscribed on coffins, appeared.
Development of Ancient Hieroglyphs
Different forms of the Egyptian hieroglyphic language were developed as Egyptian writing progressed over time. There were two handwriting equivalents to the classic hieroglyphs: hieratic and demotic, in addition to the traditional hieroglyphic writing.