Ancient Egyptian Language
As some Egyptians are fond of saying, Egypt is very beautiful. There is
not much that can compare to the feeling of looking up at the Sphinx and
the Pyramids for the first time, while comtemplating the fact that they
are nearly 5,000 years old . . .
As best we know, Egyptian writing began about 5,400 years ago, although
you may find those who contend that writing actually started in Egypt.
On that subject and more, one of my favorite books on Egypt is The Anvil
of Civilization by Leonard Cottrell, where he hypothesizes that writing
started in Lower Egypt. If you have not heard the terms "Upper Egypt" and Lower
Egypt, picture it this way . . . turn the map that you normally see of
Egypt upside down, and what you see on the top will be Upper Egypt, and
what is on the bottom, namely, the Nile Delta area, is Lower Egypt.
You can find an excellent documentary on recent new discoveries in Egypt
First Egyptian King - The Scorpion King
If you watched the posted video, you discovered that they found evidence
of a phonetic language dating back to the pre-dynastic period, which they
claim is older than any other phonetic-style writing. This is what is
meant by "Ancient Egyptian" langauge. Linguists categorize Ancient
Egyptian into five subgroups.
1. Old Egyptian - circa 3,400 BCE to 2,100 BC
2. Middle Egyptian - 2,100 BCE to 1,600 BC
3. Late Egyptian - 1,600 BCE to 600 BC
4. Demotic Egyptian - 800 BCE to 500 BC
5. Coptic Egyptian - 300 BCE to 1,300 AD
Ancient Egyptian originates from the Semito-Hamitic language family,
and was written in four different scripts: Hieroglyphs, Hieratic,
Demotic, and Coptic. It has been said that Egyptian writing started
out with symbols, but if you watched the above-mentioned video, you
discovered that there is evidence that Ancient Egyptian was phonetic
from what it likely the very beginning of writing.
Hieroglyphs - From the Greek words ἱερός - hieros (sacred) and γλυφικός - glyphos (carving, engraving).
Hieratic - From the Greek word ἱερατικός - hieratikos, meaning “priestly”.
Demotic - From the Greek δημοτικός - demotikos, meaning “popular”.
You can find an excellent source for learning more about learning to
read Egyptian Hieroglyphs here -
Hieroglyphs Step by Step
You can find video tutorials for Ancient Egyptian here -
Learning the Ancient Egyptian Language Lecture 1
Granted, this is best estimate on the sounds of the language, as the writing
did not include vowels! Yet it is not uncommon to learn an ancient language
were we do not know exactly what it sounded like, Ancient Greek is similar
in that sense.
You can find some excellent reconstructions of Ancient Egyptian Temples
here - Discovering Ancient Egypt
This same site also hosts an
Egyptian Hieroglyphic Typewriter
And there is a Hieroglyphic Phonetic Translator at:
Hieroglyphic Phonetic Translator
Google Arts and Culture now has
- A tool using the power of AI to help decode ancient languages!