Egyptian Hieroglyphs : A Formal Writing System Used By Ancient Egyptians

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Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood. Less formal variations of the script, called hieratic and demotic, are technically not hieroglyphs. Etymology The word hieroglyph comes from the Greek adjective, a compound of and γλύφω, in turn a calque of Egyptian mdw· 'w-nṯr 'god 's words '. The glyphs themselves were called 'the sacred engraved letters '. The word hieroglyph has become a noun in English, standing for an individual hieroglyphic character. As used in the previous sentence, the word hieroglyphic is an adjective, but is often erroneously used as a noun in…show more content…
Most scholars believe that Egyptian hieroglyphs "came into existence a little after Sumerian script, and, probably, invented under the influence of the latter", and that it is "probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian Mesopotamia." However, given the lack of direct evidence, "no definitive determination has been made as to the origin of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt." Instead, it is pointed out and held that "the evidence for such direct influence remains flimsy” and that “a very credible argument can also be made for the independent development of writing in Egypt..." Recent discoveries such as the Abydos glyphs "challenge the commonly held belief that early logographs, pictographic symbols representing a specific place, object, or quantity, first evolved into more complex phonetic symbols in Mesopotamia." Hieroglyphs consist of three kinds of glyphs: phonetic glyphs, including single-consonant characters that function like an alphabet; logographs, representing morphemes; and determinatives, which narrow down the meaning of logographic or phonetic words. As writing developed and became more widespread among the Egyptian people, simplified glyph forms developed, resulting in the hieratic and demotic scripts. These variants were also more suited than hieroglyphs for use on papyrus. Hieroglyphic writing was not, however, eclipsed, but existed
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