Alphabetic of Hieroglyphics
The ancient Egyptians used their language
and alphabet called hieroglyphics on temples and tombs especially to
record the history of their Pharaohs and the adventures and conquers of
them and to glorify all the Pharoah's doings.
The ancient Egyptians called their script mdju netjer, or "words of the gods." Hieroglyphs were the earliest form of Egyptian script, and also the longest-lived.
The first hieroglyphs appear on labels and pottery objects dated to about 3100 BCE in the late Predynastic Period, and the last glyphs appear on the island of Philae in a temple inscription carved in 394 ACE. Originally, hieroglyphs were used to write different kinds of texts on different surfaces, but as hieratic developed, hieroglyphic script became confined to religious and monumental useage, mostly carved in stone. Upon seeing these temple and other religious inscriptions, the Greeks called the script hiera grammata, "the sacred letters," or ta hieroglyphica, "the sacred carved letters."
inscription is arranged on its surface either in columns or in horizontal lines.
There are no punctuation marks or spaces to indicate the divisions between
words. The signs are generally inscribed facing rightward, (though the opposite
orientation does appear in certain contexts) and are usually read from right to
left; if they appear in horizontal lines, one reads from upper to lower.
script is largely pictorial in character. Most are recognizable pictures of
natural or man-made objects, often symbolically color-painted. Hieroglyphic
script also includes phonograms, sign-words for concepts that cannot be conveyed
by a simple picture. Words spelled with phonograms usually have an ideogram
added at the end. This extra sign is now called a determinative. It shows that
the signs before it are to be considered phonograms and not ideograms, and it
indicates the general idea of the word.
|Since the goose represents both the bird itself as well as the word "son," often the determinative of the man appears after the goose to show that that goose is not herein meant.|
|This is an example of how the names of the great Pharaohs were inscribed on their tombs.|
|Many inscriptions were also found on the walls inside the burial chambers of the ancient pharaohs. One of the most important discoveries was the tomb of Tutankhamen (popularly referred to as "King Tut"). His tomb was one of many found in the archeological site known as "Valley of the Kings" where many pharaohs were buried. What made Tutankhamen's tomb special was that, unlike many of the other tombs in the area which had been emptied of their treasures by robbers, most of the treasures in King Tut's tomb remained. In fact, it appeared that robbers had been caught while stealing from the tomb, and the priests or guards had resealed the tomb after piling the treasures back inside.|
This is the name of King
as written in his tomb. The hieroglyphics are written in oblong
stones called cartouches.
oval frame, called a cartouche, would be used to house the symbols for a
royal name or the name of a god. This was used much as a signature is
|The ibis-headed god Thoth was considered to be the patron deity of writing and scribes. A relief from the temple of Ramesses II at Abydos shows the god sitting on a throne, holding a long scribal palette in one hand and in the other, holding the reed with which he plans to write. King Ramesses himself is shown assisting the god by holding a water pot.|
The Egyptians also used hieroglyphs to decorate jewelry and other luxury items. They carved the symbols into stone or wood, and incised or cast them in gold, silver, and other metals. They painted hieroglyphs on various surfaces, sometimes putting down simple figures in black ink, and other times using detail and bright colors. Occasionally artists carved semiprecious stones or rare woods into hieroglyphic shapes and then inlaid them into walls or pieces of furniture..
A major change in hieroglyphs took place under the Ptolemaic
Dynasty (305-30 BC), when Egypt was ruled by a Greek dynasty. During this time
the Egyptians created many new glyphs. Priests were especially interested in
writing religious texts in more mysterious and complex manners. The priests
often used new glyphs to form specialized codes and puns understood only by a
group of religious initiates. After the Romans conquered Egypt in 30 BC, the use
of hieroglyphs declined, and eventually their use died out. The last firmly
datable hieroglyphic inscription was written in AD 394.were very time consuming
to create, so the Egyptians developed a cursive script called hieratic in the
early years of hieroglyphic use. The characters of the hieratic script were
based on the hieroglyphic symbols, but they were simplified and little resembled
their hieroglyphic origins. Hieratic was used for the bulk of writing done with
reed pens and ink on papyrus. In the 7th century BC the Egyptians began using a
script called demotic, which was even more simplified than hieratic. After this
point hieroglyphs continued to be used in carved inscriptions on buildings,
jewelry, and furniture, but hieratic was used for religious writings, and
demotic for business and literary texts.
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