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Origin of Heiroglyphics

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Origin of Heiroglyphics

Ancient Egypt conjures up thoughts of a great civilization, one very advanced for its time. The Ancient Egyptians invented all different forms of literature, including poetry and short stories, and they were extremely advanced as far as art, medicine, science, and religion went. One of the more mysterious aspects to Ancient Egyptian civilization was their use of hieroglyphics. Very few people to this day can understand the complex language. The origin of these hieroglyphics seems to also to be misunderstood by many people. Some think that since the Egyptians were such a close, rigid society that they invented the form of writing called hieroglyphics, but that is simply not true. The origin of using pictures to represent things can be traced all the way back to caveman times, but the main influence for the Egyptians came from the land of Sumer.

In fact, the beginning of Egyptian civilization was very similar to that of the Sumerians. By 500 b.c., farming settlements were established all along the Nile River (Warburton, 69). Civilization in Egypt brought problems similar to those that arose in Sumer, but it was the growing government bureaucracy, not business, that created the need for writing, and the eventual development of hieroglyphics.

Because the Nile flooded every year, the Egyptian farmers had begun to build dikes to keep the floodwaters out of towns, basins to capture and hold the water after the floods receded, and irrigation canals to distribute the water throughout the fields (Warburton, 70). Those projects required a very organized effort among every one of the farmers, and a strong central government and bureaucracy developed to manage and control this effort. Eventually, this bureaucracy, including the king, the upper-class, and the ever powerful priests in charge, became a huge, rigid network that managed everyone's life. By 3100 b.c., when the Sumerians had invented their picture writing, it had become impossible to run that network without an accurate record-keeping system (Warburton, 74).

For a long time before then, the Egyptians had been trading gold and linen with many other countries from throughout the middle east. In exchange, they got timber, gems, copper, and perfume (World Book Encyclopedia, 224). While trading in the land of Sumer, the Ancient Egyptian traders must have noticed how helpful a written language was and how it could help their governments bureaucracy function much more smoothly. Then, they brought back the idea back to Egypt, where it was quickly and openly accepted.

The Egyptians, however, did not acknowledge the borrowing from Sumerian culture. Instead, they believed that writing had been invented by their god of learning, Thoth, so they called it 'words of the gods' (Warburton, 70). And since written words came from the gods, they had magical powers. By carving a person's name on a tomb or monument, the Egyptians believed that they were helping to keep that person alive if they had passed on. Similarly, by erasing a person's name from the inscriptions would make the person disappear. Words were so powerful that putting a written list of objects in a tomb was the same as putting the objects in themselves. Since the Egyptians believed that a person's life was bound up in his name, the Egyptian Kings often had five names, the most important being the throne and birth names (Harris, 18).

Egyptians developed this gift from the gods into their own unique writing system, using the pictograms they borrowed from the Sumerians but drawing them in a ...

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Keywords: origin of hieroglyphics, origin of egyptian hieroglyphics, origin of word hieroglyphics, where did hieroglyphics originate, why were hieroglyphs created, what was hieroglyphics and who invented it

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