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The Ancient Egyptian Scribe


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The Art of learning and thus reading and writing was one of the most powerful forces in the ancient Egyptian civilization. Almost all of our known knowledge about the ancient Egyptians came from the work and art of the ancient Egyptian scribe.

The Egyptians valued learning because of the superiority which the learned men possessed over the unlearned; learning thus divided the ruling class from those who were ruled.

He who followed learned studies, and became a scribe, had put his feet on the first rung of the great ladder of official life, and all the offices of the state were open to him. He was exempted from all the hard work, trouble and labor, he was a fortunate man.

The scribe's profession is a princely profession, his writing materials and his rolls of books being pleasantness and riches. He was treated very respectfully, he never lacked food, what he wanted was given to him out of the royal stores. He could further become a wise man of the court, a leader for other men or may be an ambassador.   When a boy was intended to go to school, this was a hard task. The education was hard, the work was a lot and the boy had to obey his superiors .Teachers also were very strict as they had a hard task in which they were responsible for educating the future scribes, men whom will carry the burden of immortalizing there ideas and stories and legends  of the gods. 


The Ancient Egyptian Scribe
  The Scribe

Boys at school were taught by officials mainly from the courthouse that the school was built behind.

The boys aged about nine, worked hard, accepting to be punished and hit in order to be disciplined. School started early in the morning and ended at noon. They were provided with food from home which their mothers prepared.

The students at school did not have papyrus to write on, they used clay pieces called potsherds and broken pieces of pottery. It was until they were mature and old enough that they were allowed to use papyrus. Papyrus was made from reeds otherwise known as the papyrus plant. It was manufactured as early as the first Egyptian dynasty.  They were assigned to write copy passages of hieroglyphics in order to train themselves in future writing. These were mostly passages of fairy tales or old stories, which the students found to be quite enlightening and imaginative. 

There were two types of writing used – hieratic and hieroglyphics, they also leaned subjects such as arithmetic, useful in their studying and later occupation since it involved counting and calculating.  

The student sat Indian style and held his writing board in his lap. This is clearly shown by the statues found in the museum of Antiquities of the” ancient scribe”. Among his other writing materials were sharpened reeds, a scribal palette with red and black inkwells, and a water jug in which to dip the reed.  

 After studying and leaving school to find an occupation, the scribes were considered to be a high rank in society. The task of recording history, expressing everyday and extraordinary happenings was the responsibility of the scribe in ancient Egypt.  A scribe might write letters or draw up contracts for fellow-villagers, but others had more demanding jobs. They might record the harvest and collected the state's share of it in taxes. They could calculate the amount of food needed to feed the tomb builders. They would keep accounts on estates and order supplies for the temples and the Egyptian army. In this way, they kept the government working.


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