Hieroglyphics Alphabet

What is Ancient Egypt?

Ancient Egypt, sometimes referred to as the cradle of civilization, was a civilization located in Northeast Africa and was situated along the Egyptian Nile valley. It includes the country of what is now modern-day Egypt but expands further beyond this. According to ancient texts, prehistoric Egypt coalesced around 3100 BCE. Once the regions of Upper and Lower Egypt were politically unified, history had seen Egypt conglomerate into one large empire as a series of stable kingdoms, which were separated by a few periods of instability which were identified as the Intermediate Periods. These periods were the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Bronze Age, and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

The pinnacle of Egyptian power was reached in the classification of the New Kingdom, which saw them ruling much of the Nubian region and a large portion of the Near East - which started a period of slow decline. Throughout history, Egypt was invaded and controlled by various other foreign superpowers - which included the Macedonians, the Nubians, and the Assyrians. Most famously, it fell to the Roman Empire under Cleopatra, becoming a large Roman province. The language of the ancient Egyptians was a system of written symbols developed throughout time known as hieroglyphs.

What are Hieroglyphs?

The formal written system of Ancient Egypt, which had persisted through to the last remnants of civilization prior to the growing Christian influence in 400 CE. It combines syllabic, alphabetic, and logographic elements, which contain more than 1,000 different and distinct characters. For example, there are Cursive hieroglyphs that were used for papyrus, wood, and religious literature on these canvases. Hieroglyphs are a script that reads from right to left.

Hieratic and demotic Egyptian scripts were derived from hieroglyphs and hieroglyphic writing, which were the precursor to such scripts as the Phoenician and Coptic alphabets. In fact, the hieroglyphic script was used to birth the most popular alphabets in use today, such as the Latin and Cyrillic scripts, but also includes the Arabic and Brahmic families of scripts as well. In the 5th century CE, all pagan temples within Egypt were closed. This meant that knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was lost, and its influence on Egyptian culture, as well as the extended region throughout. This made it difficult, even impossible, to decipher ancient Egyptian texts until 1820 when explorer Champollion was able to translate the writing through the use of the Rosetta Stone.

What is the History of Hieroglyphs?

The word "Hieroglyph" comes from the Greek word "hieroglyphikos", which means sacred carving. There are many origin stories of how these symbols came to be, with some arguing that symbols from Gerzean pottery found in 4000BCE resembled hieroglyphic writing. The glyphs themselves are broken down into three different groups: logographs and phonetic glyphs were used for writing and speaking, respectively, while determinations were used to narrow down the meaning and pronunciation of the phonetic words based on context. Over time, the language was more simplified as the Egyptian ruling class realized some citizens should be literate, to their benefit.