Ancient Hieroglyphics


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Ancient Hieroglyphics and the Rosetta Stone

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  • The alphabetic element means that the glyphs are phonetic…meaning there is a sound associated with each glyph The logographic element is the picture behind the sound. The ideographic element is the idea behind the glyph. A modern example of hieroglyphs is a rebus, where symbols are used to represent ideas or sounds in order to portray a message
  • Demotic script was also used to issue public decrees in such a way that allowed citizens to read Hieratic script = more elegant. Demotic script is an even simpler script that allowed for its secular function
  • The hieroglyphics were used to record rituals or governmental decrees Priests used the hieratic form, while scribes used the demotic form of the hieroglyphics
  • Earliest hieroglyphic writing was found in the 3000 B.C. on clay tablets Christians banned hieroglyphic use in order to wipe out the pagan religion of ancient Egypt Coptic is a script that consists of 24 letters from the Greek alphabet that are combined with 6 demotic characters that are used for the Egyptian sounds that the Greek alphabet does not cover
  • Phonetic characters, or phonograms, were believed to be too advanced for the ancient civilization Semagrams…the intricate characters represented whole ideas and were merely primitive picture drawings
  • Kircher played a major role in hindering the deciphering of hieroglyphics…his translations, based on the assumption that the hieroglyphs were simply semagrams, led other would-be decipherers astray He was acknowledged as the most respected scholar of the time and influenced many future Egyptiologists Napoleon had a group of historians, scientists, and draftsmen follow behind his invading army to map, draw, transcribe, measure, and record everything that they witnessed French soldiers in Napoleon’s army were the ones to discover the Rosetta Stone Young was an English scientist, researcher, physician, and polymath…he is sometimes considered to be “the last person to know everything” He could also speak many languages. Published many articles on the Rosetta Stone, but didn’t fully finish deciphering both texts. By 1814, he had completely deciphered the demotic text of the Rosetta Stone Champollion was a French classical scholar, philologist, orientalist, and Egyptologist…he is credited as the father of Egyptology He could speak many languages and had a vast understanding of the Coptic language, which is what put him on the task of deciphering the Rosetta Stone Picked up where Young left off, and finished translating the Rosetta Stone. Was credited with solving the hieroglyphic code, and Young got angry!
  • The Greek script, which was easily read and understood, was used to help decipher the demotic and hieroglyphic ciphertexts It was inscribed with three different scripts so that it could be read by the locals and by visiting priests and government officials Heratic- used for religious documents Demotic—common script of Egypt Greek—language of the rulers of Egypt at the time
  • It is a copy of the decree issued in the city of Memphis ( The inscription was a governmental decree from a council of priests praising Ptolemy III and naming a holiday in his honor).
  • Champollion was able to decipher the Stone by using information from Thomas Young, though he never acknowledged the fact The only time that it left the museum was from 1917 until 1919, when the Museum was concerned about the heavy bombing in London, and moved the Stone to safety In November 2005, the British Museum sent Egypt a replica of the Stone
  • Ancient Hieroglyphics

    1. 1. Ancient Hieroglyphics and the Rosetta Stone
    2. 2. Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics <ul><li>Hieroglyphics stems from the Greek word hieroglyphica, which means “sacred carvings” </li></ul><ul><li>Over 2,000 characters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>alphabetic, logographic, and ideographic elements </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Originated due to the artistic traditions of the preliterate Egyptians </li></ul>
    3. 3. Hieroglyphics <ul><li>Demotic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Popular script </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Could be read off tablets by educated citizens </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hieratic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sacred script </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used on temple walls </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Who Used Hieroglyphics? <ul><li>Priests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Used cursive hieroglyphics (Hieratic script) to record religious literature </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Scribes of the government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More simple and basic; easier to understand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used Demotic script </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. When Were Hieroglyphics In Use? <ul><li>Earliest known hieroglyphic writing was discovered to be from the 3000 B.C. </li></ul><ul><li>Used up until the 4 th Century A.D. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Christians banned its use </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ancient hieroglyphic script was replaced with Coptic </li></ul><ul><li>The ability to read both demotic and hieratic hieroglyphics vanished </li></ul>
    6. 6. Breaking the Hieroglyphics <ul><li>Decryption was hindered by the assumption that phonetic characters were not used </li></ul><ul><li>People believed that hieroglyphics were semagrams </li></ul>
    7. 7. Hieroglyphic Alphabet
    8. 8. Important People <ul><li>German Jesuit priest Athanasius Kircher </li></ul><ul><li>Napoleon </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas Young </li></ul><ul><li>Jean-Francois Champollion </li></ul>
    9. 9. The Rosetta Stone <ul><li>Found in 1799 in the town of Rosetta in the Nile Delta </li></ul><ul><li>Was inscribed with three separate texts, saying the same thing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Greek </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demotic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hieratic </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. The Rosetta Stone, cont’d <ul><li>Ended up with the British due to the Treaty of Capitulation </li></ul><ul><li>Described as granodiorite </li></ul><ul><li>Measurements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>45 inches high </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>28 ½ inches wide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>11 inches thick </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. The Rosetta Stone, cont’d <ul><li>Carved in 196 B.C. </li></ul><ul><li>Deciphered fully in 1822 by Champollion </li></ul><ul><li>Exhibited in the British Museum since 1802 </li></ul><ul><li>July 2003, Egyptians demanded the return of the Stone </li></ul>
    12. 12. Example