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Egyptian hieroglyphs typical of the Graeco-Roman period, sculpted in Relief.
Glyphs: viper, Owl , 'bread bun', folded cloth

A hieroglyph (Greek for "sacred writing") was a character of the ancient Egyptian writing system. Logographic scripts that are pictographic in form in a way reminiscent of ancient Egyptian are also sometimes called "hieroglyphs".[1] In Neoplatonism, especially during the Renaissance, a "hieroglyph" was an artistic representation of an esoteric idea, which Neoplatonists believed actual Egyptian hieroglyphs to be. The word hieroglyphics refer to a hieroglyphic script. Only those privileged with an extensive education (i.e. the Pharaoh, nobility and priests) were able to read and write hieroglyphs; others used simpler 'joined-up' versions: demotic and hieratic script.

List of scripts and script-like systems sometimes labeled 'hieroglyphic'[edit]

One of the two forms of the Meroitic writing system is usually described as "Meroitic hieroglyphs" because the characters are similar to and in most cases derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. They are used, however, not as logographs but as an alphasyllabary.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Egypt, Ancient: Hieroglyphics and Origins of Alphabet". Encyclopedia of African History Title information  – via Credo Reference (subscription required). Retrieved 12 September 2012.

Further reading[edit]