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Life in Ancient Egypt:
A Writing System
Review of the Gods
• The religion of ancient Egypt was
polytheistic (the belief in many gods).
• Religion played a central part in Egyptian
life. It helped people to understand the
world around them and to cope with the
difficulties of everyday living.
• The Egyptians worshipped hundred of
gods.
Review of the Gods
Osiris
chief god of
the
underworld,
death, and
rebirth
Anubis
Horus
helper of
Osiris
Isis
goddess of
women
sky god
Ra
the sun
god
What do you
see?
Eye of Horus
Horus
Lesson Preview
• The pictures or images the Egyptians painted
had rules.
• Egypt’s earliest writing is called
hieroglyphics.
• The Rosetta Stone was the key to
understanding the language of the ancient
Egyptians.
• Scribes were experts with special skills who
learned to read and write.
Pictures and Writing in Egypt
When Egyptians painted pictures they
were not trying to show what people really
looked like.
A picture was a kind of diagram
(drawing, sketch, plan, or chart that makes
something clearer or easier to
understand).
Pictures and Writing in Egypt
•The pictures or images the
Egyptians painted had rules.
•Artists had to follow rules in
making pictures and writing.
•If a figure is facing right they
are more important than the
figure on the left.
•When two people face each
other, the more important figure
is usually faces right.
A Writing System
• Earliest writing is called hieroglyphics.
• Hieroglyphics are pictures to stand for
objects, ideas, and sounds.
• The word hieroglyph is a Greek word that
means sacred writing in stone.
• Hieroglyphics were difficult for language
experts to understand.
• Language specialists and archaeologists
studied the symbols for years with no
success in finding their meaning.
Rosetta Stone
• In 1799, French soldiers discovered a black
stone slab in the village of Rosetta in the Nile
Delta.
• The stone would be called the Rosetta Stone
because of the location it was found.
• On the stone the same passage was written in
three languages:
Greek
Egyptian hieroglyphs
cursive form of Egyptian
• Scholars studied the stone for over 20 years
trying to decode the hieroglyphics.
Rosetta Stone
Jean Champollion
• Finally, a brilliant Frenchman
named Jean Champollion found
the key to decoding the passage
on the Rosetta Stone.
• The passage on the stone praised
the pharaoh Ptolemy V for gifts he
had given the temples.
• In 1822 Champollion was
comparing the hieroglyphs with
the Greek words. He identified
and compared the names Ptolemy
and Cleopatra. The sounds
matched with the hieroglyphs
Jean Champollion
• Now Champollion
was able to decode
the Rosetta Stone.
• He would later publish
a dictionary of the
ancient Egyptian
language.
Page from Champollion's notes
What types of things did the
Egyptians write?
• Once Scholars were able to decode hieroglyphic
writing, they could read about the Egyptians life.
Such as:
laws
songs
tales
jokes
magic spells
business contracts
Egypt’s history
Hieroglyphic System of Writing
• To master hieroglyphics writing a person would
have to memorize over 700 different signs.
Scribes
• A scribe is a professional writer or record keeper
• Scribes were experts with special skills, this means they
had good jobs and a respected place in Egyptian society.
• Who were the scribes? Scribes were people in ancient
Egypt (usually men) who learned to read and write.
• Although experts believe that most scribes were men,
there is evidence of some female doctors. These women
would have been trained as scribes so that they could
read medical texts.
• http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/writing/story/main.html
Scribes and their tools
Wooden Brush Holder
Egyptian scribes wrote
with brushes
Hieratic Writing
• Ordinary writing
was called
hieratic script,
which did not use
pictures and could
be written much
more quickly than
hieroglyphics.
Demotic Script
• Demotic script is a simple
from of hieratic script.
• Demotic script was carved on
the Rosetta Stone.
Review
• The Rosetta Stone was found in Nile Delta, on the
stone the same passage was written in three
languages: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphs, cursive
form of Egyptian.
• After 20 years, Frenchman named Jean Champollion
found the key to decoding the passage on the
Rosetta Stone.
• Scribes were people in ancient Egypt (usually men)
who learned to read and write.