Summary of Egyptian Passage

Summary of Egyptian Passage




Summary of Egyptian Passage

The first Egyptian dynasty was formed around 3100BCE when King Menes unified the land of Egypt. The Egyptians retained their method of pictorial writing called hieroglyphics, unlike the Sumerians whose pictographic writing evolved to cuneiform. This form of writing was preserved for over three and a half millennia, with the earliest being dated at about 3100BCE and the last at 394BCE long after Egypt was under Roman rule. The Greek and Roman scholars believed these writings were magical symbols, because of the high level of secrecy that the last people to write this language embraced. These people were Egyptian temple priests.

Nineteen centuries after the last hieroglyph was written, people looked at the work of the Egyptians with absolute amazement since they did not understand. In 1799, Napoleon’s troops unearthed a black slab that bore inscriptions in two languages, as they were digging for the foundation of a fortification. The languages were Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian demotic scripts, and Greek. The scholars assumed that the three inscriptions meant the same thing, and that set the foundation for translations. Dr. Thomas Young in 1819 proved that the direction that the glyphs were facing was the intended direction of reading. The major deciphering of the Rosetta stone hieroglyphs (Slab dug up by Napoleon’s troops) was done by Jean-François Champollion when he realized that some signs were alphabetic, syllabic and others determinative.

In 1822, Jean-François realized that the hieroglyphs also functioned as phonograms not only as pictographs. He was then given a copy of an inscription on an obelisk (A tall, geometric totem-like Egyptian monument) when he discovered that a word that he deciphered earlier. Armed with the knowledge, he proceeded to decipher the cartouche for Alexander the Great. Champollion assumed all the cartouches he could get his hands on, from the Greco-Roman era and translated them. He died at the ripe age of forty-two, after which his Egyptian dictionary and grammar were published, giving way to nineteenth-century Egyptologists to unlock the mysteries of Egypt.

In cases where the early Egyptians encountered a word, they found difficult to express visually the used a rebus (Using pictures for sound) in its place. Over seven hundred hieroglyphs and more than one hundred pictographs were created by the time of the new kingdom. The writing system at the time was highly efficient. Determinatives had to be used because of the presence of many homonyms; this aided the reader to understand the intended message. The evidence of the systems’ high admiration, American designer Paul Rand utilized the Rebus system in IBM’s 1981 poster. Hieroglyphs presented much more possibilities compared to cuneiform. Thus, it was used in historical documents, poetry, myths, and epics.

Early phases if western civilization is represented by ancient Egypt, most of the Greek knowledge is from Egypt. The Egyptians can be accredited for the use of visual symbols to describe people, emotions, sports, and even occurrences. Ancient Egyptians had an astonishing sense of design and very sensitive to the decorative and quality of their hieroglyphs. Hieroglyphs proved flexible method in which they could be written since one started reading from the direction the creatures were facing. This in mind it meant that the glyphs could be read in four patterns: left to right horizontally; left to right in vertical columns; right to left horizontally; and right to left in vertical columns. Some designs combined all patterns in one work.

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