Those weird symbols you see on the walls that sort of remind you of potato wedges and a form of ancient Webdings font are called hieroglyphics. Known as the sacred text of the ancient Egyptians, it was a craft mastered by the priests and scribes of their time. Made up of over 700 symbols and drawings, it is a language that expresses itself through pictures in order to relay the central thought. To learn more about this cool way of writing, here are 10 facts about hieroglyphics:
Fact 1: We get the word Hieroglyph from the Greek words “hieros” which translates to holy, and “glyphe” which translates to writing. Hieroglyph means “Holy writing”. Aside from this being the medium for text, the ancient Egyptian scribes also came up with another form of writing called “hieratic”; basically the shortened form of hieroglyphics that they used when they were in a hurry and wanted to relay a message quicker and shorter. The word hieroglyphics means “picture writing” as well.
Fact 2: You could write Egyptian hieroglyphics from left to right, up and down, and every which way! In order to read the text, just take note of the drawn animal and look at the direction it’s facing. If the animal is facing left, start reading from the left. So on, and so forth.
Fact 3: There are over 700 symbols that can be found in the Egyptian alphabet! To top it all off, they had no vowels in them. And to think the alphabet we’re familiar with only has 26 characters!
Fact 4: You could find these hieroglyphics written on the walls of holy temples, tombs, tablets, and papyrus reed. The reeds would be dried, flattened, and then put together to make pages. You’d think that the trouble it took for hieroglyphics to be created make the ancient Egyptians appreciate them, but they didn’t. Majority of the population didn’t know how to read and write, even some of the most powerful people. The only ones who knew this craft were priests and scribes and those who bothered to learn.
Fact 5: Proper punctuation, commas, spaces after each word, and other rules of language and writing were completely disregarded! The Egyptians wrote their text using absolutely no spaces! Imaginehowharditwouldbetoreadtextthatwentonandonandoninthismanner
Fact 6: The only ones allowed to write hieroglyphics were boys. When beginning their training, they are only given a piece of limestone and a sharp piece of rock to practice with. Once they’ve gotten the hang of mastering all the symbols, they were gifted with proper sheets of papyrus.
Fact 7: The ink they used to write the hieroglyphics in was derived from the juices of fruits and plants. In order to create a text, one had to take the sticky sap from a tree and mix it in with the crushed fruit or plant juice. The mixture would hold well enough for the scribe to dip papyrus reeds in them and begin scribbling texts on walls.
Fact 8: Hieratic, also known as simplified hieroglyphics were the priests’ writing. Hieroglyphics were too complicated to write text with and often took up a lot of time to create, so the priests created a sub text that allowed them to write records on papyrus paper easier. Hieratic writing also uses pictures as symbols, but not as often as hieroglyphics.
Fact 9: There was also a form of writing called “Demotic” or “the people’s writing”, this time a more simplified version of writing in hieratic. This form of writing was the most commonly used form of Egyptian text.
Fact 10: A brilliant French scholar by the name of Champollion was able to decipher hieroglyphic and demotic text when he discovered the Rosseta Stone. The stone was composed of hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek text. Because he was able to read and write in Greek, he was able to figure out the writings of the stone and the meaning for each symbol. The Rosseta Stone is basically your guide to unlocking hieroglyphics.