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Egyptian Hieroglyphics

The Egyptians are given credit for the invention of the written word or hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphics, are stylized pictures that are also called pictographs or ideograms. By joining together these groups of ideograms, the early Egyptians formed tow kinds of cursive writing. One was called hieratic used for only sacred texts. Anyone who knew how to use this form of hieroglyphic was well educated and skilled in reading and writing. The other form of this writing was called demotic the most common form, which was used by everyone for such things as diaries, lists of products and official decrees.

The material used to make paper to write on was the papyrus plant. Strips of the plant were pressed into sheets. They were glued together and rolled onto wooden rods to from scrolls.

A scribe, or the person, who was professionally trained to do hieroglyphics, was highly thought of and sought out. These people kept written records that were kept in temples and royal palaces. The pictographs, ideograms, and hieroglyphics so far can’t be translated into spoken words. The symbols show ideas or actions. There were no spelling rules or grammar to adhere to.Why would Egyptians use this form of writing when the written alphabet was finally invented? The reasons may have to do with religious belief. These signs were regarded as a gift of Thoth, the god of wisdom. This form of writing was not used after the Egyptians converted to Christianity. One of the most famous examples of hieroglyphics is the Rosetta Stone. The French Army under Napoleon Bonaparte had invaded Egypt. The fifteenth day of July 1795 was an important day in history. A member of the French Expedition to Egypt in the fort of St. Julian at Rosetta, a town near the mouth of the western arm of the Nile found a 114-cm long, 72-cm wide, 28-cm thick and almost 726-kg heavy basalt stone. The stone was found at Qaitbey’s Citadel in Rosetta carried inscriptions in three ancient languages; Hieroglyphic, which had fourteen lines, Demotic, had thirty-two lines, and Greek had fifty-four lines. The stone records a decree passed by the priests of Memphis to honor Ptolemy Epiphanies 205-181 B.C. for his bounty to the temples and priesthood on his accession and coronation. The picture-texts found in the Rosetta Stone were rendered first in hieroglyphic, then in demotic, and third in Greek. Since Greek was easily legible to scholars and the other two texts recorded the same decree, it was immediately recognized as important discovery.