Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs

were a writing system used by the ancient Egyptians to record their language and beliefs. The word “hieroglyph” comes from the Greek words hieros (sacred) and glyphein (to carve), meaning “sacred carving.”  When the use of hieroglyphs died out. The script was first used on temple walls and statues. But later spread to papyrus scrolls, pottery, and other materials.

The hieroglyphic system consisted of a combination of over 700 signs. Including pictures of animals, people, and objects. As well as abstract symbols representing sounds or ideas. Some hieroglyphs had multiple meanings. Which made the language difficult to learn and understand.  During the reign of the pharaoh Akhenaten, a simplified version of the script was developed called the Amarna script. Which was to write informal letters and documents.

In order to read hieroglyphs

scholars use a combination of knowledge about the language, context, and visual cues. For example, in the word ‘ra’, the symbol for the sun god ‘Ra’ was used, while in the word ‘akhet’, the symbol for a rising sun was used. Hieroglyphs continued to be for religious and ceremonial purposes through the end of the fourth century CE.

Different types of hieroglyphs were for different purposes. For example, ‘glyphs’ were  in the inscriptions on temple walls and sculptures and were highly detailed. While hieratic glyphs were  for more everyday purposes such as writing on papyrus and were less complex.

Today, hieroglyphs are studied and interpreted by Egyptologists. Who use their knowledge to decipher ancient texts and understand the beliefs, customs, and daily lives of the ancient Egyptians.