Hieroglyphics Facts

Hieroglyphics Facts
Hieroglyphs were the writing system used by ancient Egyptians that consisted of thousands of distinct signs. Egyptians are believed to have started developing hieroglyphs as a form of writing in approximately 3200 BC. There were over 6,000 signs in the language by 300 BC. Scribes, royals, priests, and nobles were the only members of Egyptian society capable of reading hieroglyphs. Scribes with a basic grasp of hieroglyphs knew approximately 700 to 750 of the signs, while skilled scribes knew over 3,000. Hieroglyphs were created in two stages. The scribes first painted the inscriptions on objects or walls of buildings. Carvers would follow and engrave the inscriptions into the walls or objects. Scribes also wrote on papyrus, a type of plant substance resembling paper.
Interesting Hieroglyphics Facts:
The word 'hieroglyph' is derived from the Greek adjective 'hieroglyphikos', which means, 'sacred god's words'.
In English the word hieroglyph is a noun that means a hieroglyphic character.
Scribes began training to learn hieroglyphs as young as 12. They attended special schools to learn the signs.
Only roughly 3% of the population of ancient Egypt knew how to read hieroglyphics.
Hieroglyphs were meant to represent both ideas and sounds.
Hieroglyphics were divided into four different categories including alphabetic, syllabic, word-signs, and determinatives.
Alphabetic signs in hieroglyphics were created to represent one sound each but because Egyptians did not represent vowels the actual sounds represented may never be known.
Syllabic signs in hieroglyphics were created to represent two to three consonants.
Word-signs in hieroglyphics were created to as pictures of objects. An upright stroke at the end of the picture meant the word was complete.
A triple sign in hieroglyphics meant that it was plural.
Determinatives were pictures that helped show the meaning of an abstract idea.
The Rosetta Stone, discovered in 1799 near Rosetta, Egypt, helped scholars decipher hieroglyphics. Before this discovery it was believed they may never be deciphered. The Rosetta Stone had Greek, demotic, and hieroglyphics to convey a message which made it possible for scholars to begin making sense of it.
Hieroglyphics could be written from left to right, right to left, or even top to bottom depending on the scribe. It was up to the reader to determine the direction, based on the direction the symbols were written.
Demotic writing was a simpler form of hieroglyphics that the commoners learned to write. It was common to write on papyrus with demotic writing.
Hieroglyphics can be seen in museums, on stone monuments, on tombs, and in temples, as well as in ancient writings.
Some believe that hieroglyphs have existed since 5000 BC, created by hunter-gatherers in the Western Desert. Others believe this was just early rock art as it was not meant to pass on information, just used to remember land features and other information.
As hieroglyphs progressed two additional scripts were developed by the Egyptians including hieretic and demotic.
When the Greeks conquered Egypt the art of hieroglyphs and the knowledge of it began to fade and later when the Romans conquered Egypt hieroglyphics faded out. They were replaced with Coptic which used only about 30 signs.


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