Hieroglyphs deciphered*The ancient Egyptian word for hieroglyphs, literally translated as language of the godsPriests used hieroglyphs to write down prayers, magical texts, and texts related to life after deathWhen preparing their tombs, many people had autobiographies and hieroglyphic guides of the afterworld written on the surfaces of tomb wallsThe Egyptians believed that these texts helped guide the dead through the afterlifeCivil officials used them to write royal documents of long-term importance, to record historical events
ThothThe patron god of writing and hieroglyphics
Scribesboys were sent to school to become scribesstudents would copy out symbols and signs on fragments of broken pottery or clay pots because papyrus was too expensive for use in school.They also learned numbers and math.Out of school they would get high ranking jobs (working for the government, as priests, or recorders of supplies, taxes, history, accounts, et.)
The social pyramid
Materials used for writing
The Rosetta Stone*After the fall of ancient Egyptian civilization in 30 BCE, the meaning of hieroglyphs remained a mystery for about 1,800 yearsDuring the French occupation of Egypt from 1798 to 1801, a group of French soldiers and engineers uncovered a large stone now known as the Rosetta StoneIt contains the same text written three different waysin hieroglyphs, in the demotic script, and in ancient Greek.The stone was taken to Europe, where scholars translated the ancient Greek and used the information to decipher the other two texts
The transition of languageEgyptian hieroglyphics and hieraticDemotic ScriptGreek Script
Champollion *In 1822, a French Egyptologist named Jean Franois Champollion figured out how to decipher hieroglyphic writingHe realized that the hieroglyphs that spelled "Ptolemy" were enclosed in a cartouche, so he was able to match it up to the Greek spellingThis discovery enabled him to equate the unfamiliar hieroglyphs with familiar Greek words and to translate the entire messageThe writing was a message about Ptolemy V, who was ruling Egypt at the time
Jean-Franois ChampollionHe was able to cross-reference his findings with an obelisk which contained the names Ptolemy and Cleopatra which helped solve the riddle of hieroglyphics.He then went on to read the names Ramseses and Thutmose.
The Hieroglyphic alphabet
Where are they found?Hieroglyphs were ideal for monumental and decorative purposes (found in tombs, temples, etc). They could be easily chiseled and painted.They were not, however, used day-to-day as the process took too long to write.
What did the glyphs represent?The sign represents one soundThere are no true vowels in Ancient Egyptian; only what is considered to be semi-vowels which are transcribed today as the letters a, i and u which made it difficult to vocalize the language.So, Egyptologists would insert an e until something more pronounceable was found.
Conventions of HieroglyphsLeft to right, right to left
Top to bottomCartouches
How to read the hieroglyphs*THERE are three forms of writing that were used to write the ancient Egyptian language:Hieroglyphs: From the Greek meaning "sacred writing." This is the picture language that was used most often to decorate temples and monuments Hieratic: cursive form of writing, as script is to printed letters; quicker to write since the picture quality of the language was reduced to a pattern of linesDemotic means the people's writing; shorthand version of the Hieratic script which was used during the Late Period
The hieroglyphs*Egyptian glyphs are divided into two groups: phonograms, which are glyphs that represent sounds, and ideograms, which are glyphs that represent objects or ideasThe Egyptians constructed words by using a combination of the two types of glyphsReaders must generally use both phonograms and ideograms to determine the significance of a word or phrase
*No sound for thLook at faces read toward faces.Official documents faced right.Decorating a building different directions arranged them to look attractive.A cartouche is a double loop of rope tied at one end and a pharaohs name was written inside.
b. Alphabetic signs24 hieroglyphics represent single sounds. The Egyptians took most vowels for granted and did not represent them
c. Syllabic signsrepresent a combination of two or three consonants
d. Determinative signsA determinative is a picture of an object which helps the reader. if you have a name, Bob, and it is followed by the "man" glyph, you can assume that Bob is the name of a man
Conclusion*After the fall of ancient Egyptian civilization in 30 BC, the meaning of hieroglyphs remained a mystery for about 1,800 years The work of deciphering the hieroglyphs went on after Champollions death and continues up to the present day, continually providing new information about life in ancient Egypt