Egyptian hieroglyphs were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs combined logographic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters. Cursive hieroglyphs were used for religious literature on papyrus and wood; the hieratic and demotic Egyptian scripts were derived from hieroglyphic writing, as was the Proto-Siniatic script that evolved into the Phoenician alphabet. Through the Phoenician alphabet's major child systems, the Greek and Aramaic scripts, the Egyptian hieroglyphic script is ancestral to the majority of scripts in modern use, most prominently the Latin and Cyrillic scripts and the Arabic script and Brahmic family of scripts; the use of hieroglyphic writing arose from proto-literate symbol systems in the Early Bronze Age, around the 32nd century BC, with the first decipherable sentence written in the Egyptian language dating to the Second Dynasty. Egyptian hieroglyphs developed into a mature writing system used for monumental inscription in the classical language of the Middle Kingdom period.
The use of this writing system continued through the New Kingdom and Late Period, on into the Persian and Ptolemaic periods. Late survivals of hieroglyphic use are found well into the Roman period, extending into the 4th century AD. With the final closing of pagan temples in the 5th century, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was lost. Although attempts were made, the script remained undeciphered throughout the Middle Ages and the early modern period; the decipherment of hieroglyphic writing would only be accomplished in the 1820s by Jean-François Champollion, with the help of the Rosetta Stone. The word hieroglyph comes from the Greek adjective ἱερογλυφικός, a compound of ἱερός and γλύφω; the glyphs themselves since the Ptolemaic period were called τὰ ἱερογλυφικὰ "the sacred engraved letters", the Greek counterpart to the Egyptian expression of mdw.w-nṯr "god's words". Greek ἱερογλυφός meant "a carver of hieroglyphs". In English, hieroglyph as a noun is recorded from 1590 short for nominalised hieroglyphic, from adjectival use.
Hieroglyphs may have emerged from the preliterate artistic traditions of Egypt. For example, symbols on Gerzean pottery from c. 4000 BC have been argued to resemble hieroglyphic writing. Proto-hieroglyphic symbol systems develop in the second half of the 4th millennium BC, such as the clay labels of a Predynastic ruler called "Scorpion I" recovered at Abydos in 1998 or the Narmer Palette; the first full sentence written in mature hieroglyphs so far discovered was found on a seal impression found in the tomb of Seth-Peribsen at Umm el-Qa'ab, which dates from the Second Dynasty. There are around 800 hieroglyphs dating back to the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom Eras. By the Greco-Roman period, there are more than 5,000. Geoffrey Sampson stated that Egyptian hieroglyphs "came into existence a little after Sumerian script, invented under the influence of the latter", that it is "probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian Mesopotamia".
There are many instances of early Egypt-Mesopotamia relations, but given the lack of direct evidence for the transfer of writing, "no definitive determination has been made as to the origin of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt". Instead, it is pointed out and held that "the evidence for such direct influence remains flimsy” and that “a credible argument can be made for the independent development of writing in Egypt..." Since the 1990s, the discoveries of glyphs at Abydos, dated to between 3400 and 3200 BCE, may challenge the classical notion according to which the Mesopotamian symbol system predates the Egyptian one, although Egyptian writing does make a sudden apparition at that time, while on the contrary Mesopotamia has an evolutionnary history of sign usage in tokens dating back to circa 8000 BCE. Hieroglyphs consist of three kinds of glyphs: phonetic glyphs, including single-consonant characters that function like an alphabet; as writing developed and became more widespread among the Egyptian people, simplified glyph forms developed, resulting in the hieratic and demotic scripts.
These variants were more suited than hieroglyphs for use on papyrus. Hieroglyphic writing was not, eclipsed, but existed alongside the other forms in monumental and other formal writing; the Rosetta Stone contains three parallel scripts – hieroglyphic and Greek. Hieroglyphs continued to be used under Persian rule, after Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt, during the ensuing Ptolemaic and Roman periods, it appears that the misleading quality of comments from Greek and Roman writers about hieroglyphs came about, at least in part, as a response to the changed political situation. Some believed that hieroglyphs may have functioned as a way to distinguish'true Egyptians' from some of the foreign conquerors. Another reason may be the refusal to tackle a foreign culture on its own terms, which characterized Greco-Roman approaches to Egyptian culture generally. Having learned that hieroglyphs were sacred writing, Greco-Roman authors imagined the complex but rational system as an allegorical magical, system transmitting secre
The Egyptian pyramids are ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structures located in Egypt. As of November 2008, sources cite either 138 as the number of identified Egyptian pyramids. Most were built as tombs for the country's pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods; the earliest known Egyptian pyramids are found at Saqqara, northwest of Memphis. The earliest among these is the Pyramid of Djoser, built c. 2630–2610 BC during the Third Dynasty. This pyramid and its surrounding complex were designed by the architect Imhotep, are considered to be the world's oldest monumental structures constructed of dressed masonry; the most famous Egyptian pyramids are those found on the outskirts of Cairo. Several of the Giza pyramids are counted among the largest structures built; the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the largest Egyptian pyramid. It is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence. By the time of the Early Dynastic Period, those with sufficient means were buried in bench-like structures known as mastabas.
The second historically-documented Egyptian pyramid is attributed to the architect Imhotep, who planned what Egyptologists believe to be a tomb for the pharaoh Djoser. Imhotep is credited with being the first to conceive the notion of stacking mastabas on top of each other, creating an edifice composed of a number of "steps" that decreased in size towards its apex; the result was the Pyramid of Djoser, designed to serve as a gigantic stairway by which the soul of the deceased pharaoh could ascend to the heavens. Such was the importance of Imhotep's achievement that he was deified by Egyptians; the most prolific pyramid-building phase coincided with the greatest degree of absolutist rule. It was during this time of the Old Kingdom of Egypt that the most famous pyramids, the Giza pyramid complex, were built. Over time, as authority became less centralized, the ability and willingness to harness the resources required for construction on a massive scale decreased, pyramids were smaller, less well-built and hastily constructed.
Long after the end of Egypt's own pyramid-building period, a burst of pyramid-building occurred in what is present-day Sudan, after much of Egypt came under the rule of the Kingdom of Kush, based at Napata. While Napatan rule was brief, ending in 661 BC, Egyptian culture made an indelible impression; the Meroitic period of Kushite history, when the kingdom was centered on Meroë, saw a full-blown pyramid-building revival, which saw more than two hundred Egyptian-inspired indigenous royal pyramid-tombs constructed in the vicinity of the kingdom's capital cities. Al-Aziz Uthman tried to destroy the Giza pyramid complex, he gave up after damaging the Pyramid of Menkaure. The shape of Egyptian pyramids is thought to represent the primordial mound from which the Egyptians believed the earth was created; the shape of a pyramid is thought to be representative of the descending rays of the sun, most pyramids were faced with polished reflective white limestone, in order to give them a brilliant appearance when viewed from a distance.
Pyramids were also named in ways that referred to solar luminescence. For example, the formal name of the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur was The Southern Shining Pyramid, that of Senwosret at el-Lahun was Senwosret is Shining. While it is agreed that pyramids were burial monuments, there is continued disagreement on the particular theological principles that might have given rise to them. One suggestion is that they were designed as a type of "resurrection machine."The Egyptians believed the dark area of the night sky around which the stars appear to revolve was the physical gateway into the heavens. One of the narrow shafts that extend from the main burial chamber through the entire body of the Great Pyramid points directly towards the center of this part of the sky; this suggests the pyramid may have been designed to serve as a means to magically launch the deceased pharaoh's soul directly into the abode of the gods. All Egyptian pyramids were built on the west bank of the Nile, which, as the site of the setting sun, was associated with the realm of the dead in Egyptian mythology.
In 1842, Karl Richard Lepsius produced the first modern list of pyramids – now known as the Lepsius list of pyramids – in which he counted 67. A great many more have since been discovered; as of November 2008, 118 Egyptian pyramids have been identified. The location of Pyramid 29, which Lepsius called the "Headless Pyramid", was lost for a second time when the structure was buried by desert sands after Lepsius's survey, it was found again only during an archaeological dig conducted in 2008. Many pyramids are in a poor state of preservation or buried by desert sands. If visible at all, they may appear as little more than mounds of rubble; as a consequence, archaeologists are continuing to identify and study unknown pyramid structures. The most recent pyramid to be discovered was that of Sesheshet at Saqqara, mother of the Sixth Dynasty pharaoh Teti, announced on 11 November 2008. All of Egypt's pyramids, except the small Third Dynasty pyramid of Zawyet el-Amwat, are sited on the west bank of the Nile, most are grouped together in a number of pyramid fields.
The most important of these are listed geographically, from north to south, below. Abu Rawash is the site of Egypt's most northerly pyramid — the ruined Pyramid of Djedefre and successor of Khufu, it was thought that this pyramid had never been completed, but the current archaeological consensus is that not only was it completed, but that it was orig
Nubia is a region along the Nile river encompassing the area between Aswan in southern Egypt and Khartoum in central Sudan. It was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Africa, with a history that can be traced from at least 2500 BC onward with the Kerma culture; the latter was conquered by the New Kingdom of Egypt under pharaoh Thutmose I around 1500 BC. Nubia was home to several empires, most prominently the kingdom of Kush, which conquered Egypt during the 8th century BC during the reign of Piye and ruled the country as its Twenty-fifth Dynasty; the collapse of Kush in the 4th century AD after more than a thousand years of existence was precipitated by an invasion by Ethiopia's Kingdom of Aksum and saw the rise of three Christian kingdoms, Nobatia and Alodia, the last two again lasting for a millennium. Their eventual decline initiated not only the partition of Nubia into the northern half conquered by the Ottomans and the southern half by the Sennar sultanate in the 16th century, but a rapid Islamization and partial Arabization of the Nubian people.
Nubia was again united with the Khedivate of Egypt in the 19th century. Today, the region of Nubia is split between Sudan; the archaeological science dealing with ancient Nubia is called Nubiology. The name Nubia is derived from that of the Noba people, nomads who settled the area in the 4th century CE following the collapse of the kingdom of Meroë; the Noba spoke a Nilo-Saharan language, ancestral to Old Nubian. Old Nubian was used in religious texts dating from the 8th and 15th centuries. Before the 4th century, throughout classical antiquity, Nubia was known as Kush, or, in Classical Greek usage, included under the name Ethiopia; the people of Nubia spoke at least two varieties of the Nubian language group, a subfamily that includes Nobiin, Kenuzi-Dongola and several related varieties in the northern part of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan. Until at least 1970, the Birgid language is now extinct. However, linguistic evidence indicates that the languages spoken in the ancient Kerma Culture in Nubia, belonged to the Cushitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages.
Nubia was divided into three major regions: Upper and Lower Nubia, in reference to their locations along the Nile. Lower refers to regions upper refers to regions upstream. Lower Nubia lies within the current borders of Egypt. Middle Nubia lies between the Third Cataracts. Upper Nubia lies south of the Third Cataract. Early settlements sprouted in both Lower Nubia. Egyptians referred to Nubia as "Ta-Seti," or "The Land of the Bow," since the Nubians were known to be expert archers. Modern scholars refer to the people from this area as the "A-Group" culture. Fertile farmland just south of the Third Cataract is known as the "pre-Kerma" culture in Upper Nubia, as they are the ancestors; the Neolithic people in the Nile Valley came from Sudan, as well as the Sahara, there was shared culture with the two areas and with that of Egypt during this period. By the 5th millennium BC, the people who inhabited what is now called Nubia participated in the Neolithic revolution. Saharan rock reliefs depict scenes that have been thought to be suggestive of a cattle cult, typical of those seen throughout parts of Eastern Africa and the Nile Valley to this day.
Megaliths discovered at Nabta Playa are early examples of what seems to be one of the world's first astronomical devices, predating Stonehenge by 2,000 years. This complexity as observed at Nabta Playa, as expressed by different levels of authority within the society there formed the basis for the structure of both the Neolithic society at Nabta and the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Around 3500 BC, the second "Nubian" culture, termed the A-Group, arose, it was a contemporary of, ethnically and culturally similar to, the polities in predynastic Naqada of Upper Egypt. The A-Group people were engaged in trade with the Egyptians; this trade is testified archaeologically by large amounts of Egyptian commodities deposited in the graves of the A-Group people. The imports consisted of gold objects, copper tools, faience amulets and beads, slate palettes, stone vessels, a variety of pots. Around 3300 BC, there is evidence of a unified kingdom, as shown by the finds at Qustul, that maintained substantial interactions with the culture of Naqadan Upper Egypt.
The Nubian culture may have contributed to the unification of the Nile Valley. Toby Wilkinson, based on work by Bruce Williams in the 1980s, wrote that "The white crown, associated in historic times with Upper Egypt, is first attested than the red crown, but is directly associated with the ruler somewhat earlier; the earliest known depiction of the white crown is on a ceremonial incense burner from Cemetery at Qustul in Lower Nubia". Based on a 1998 excavation report, Jane Roy has written that "At the time of Williams' argument, the Qustul cemetery and the'royal' iconography found there was dated to the Naqada IIIA period, thus antedating royal cemeteries in Egypt of the Naqada IIIB phase. New evidence from Abydos, however the excavation of Cemetery U and the tome U-j, dating to Naqada IIIA has shown that this iconography appears earlier in Egypt." Around the turn of the protodynastic period, Naqada, in its bid to conquer and unify the whole Nile Valley, seems to have conquered Ta-Seti and harmonized it with the Egyptian state.
Thus, Nubia became the first
The Uraeus is the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra, used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty and divine authority in ancient Egypt. The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet, she was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and was depicted as a cobra, as she is the serpent goddess. The center of her cult was in Per-Wadjet called Buto by the Greeks, she became the protector of all of Lower Egypt. The pharaohs wore the uraeus as a head ornament: either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head. In whatever manner that the Uraeus was displayed upon the pharaoh's head, it was, in effect, part of the pharaoh's crown; the pharaoh was recognized only by wearing the Uraeus. There is evidence for this tradition in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE. Several goddesses associated with or being considered aspects of Wadjet are depicted wearing the uraeus as well. At the time of the unification of Egypt, the image of Nekhbet, the goddess, represented as a white vulture and held the same position as the patron of Upper Egypt, joined the image of Wadjet on the Uraeus that would encircle the crown of the pharaohs who ruled the unified Egypt.
The importance of their separate cults kept them from becoming merged as with so many Egyptian deities. Together, they were known as the nebty or The Two Ladies, who became the joint protectors and patrons of the unified Egypt; the pharaohs were seen as a manifestation of the sun god Ra, so it was believed that the Uraeus protected them by spitting fire on their enemies from the fiery eye of the goddess. In some mythological works, the eyes of Ra are said to be uraei. Wadjets existed long before the rise of this cult when they originated as the eye of Wadjet as a cobra. Wadjets are the name of the symbols called the Eye of the Moon, Eye of Hathor, the Eye of Horus, the Eye of Ra—depending upon the dates of the references to the symbols; as the Uraeus was seen as a royal symbol, the deities Horus and Set were depicted wearing the symbol on their crowns. In early ancient Egyptian mythology, Horus would have been the name given to any king as part of the many titles taken, being identified as the son of the goddess Isis.
According to the mythology of Re, the first Uraeus was said to have been created by the goddess Isis, who formed it from the dust of the earth and the spittle of the then-current sun deity. In this version of the mythology, the Uraeus was the instrument with which Isis gained the throne of Egypt for Osiris. Isis may be considered an aspect of Wadjet. In 1919, after only a half-hour of excavation, the Qufti worker Hosni Ibrahim held in his hands the solid-gold Golden Uraeus of Senusret II, it had been decided to make a complete clearance of the El-Lahun Pyramid's rooms at Saqqara. The start in the rock-cut offering chamber, leading from the tomb, on the south revealed in the turnover of the six inches of debris, the Golden Uraeus crown ornament. Prior to the 1922 find of Tutankhamun's tomb, this Golden Uraeus was the only ornament known to be worn by an entombed pharaoh, it was thought that it was passed to the next pharaoh; the Golden Uraeus is of solid gold, 6.7 cm, black eyes of granite, a snake head of deep ultramarine lapis lazuli, the flared cobra hood of dark carnelian inlays, inlays of turquoise.
For mounting on the pharaoh's crown, two loops in the rear-supporting tail of the cobra provide the attachment points. Besides the Uraeus being used as an ornament for statuary or as an adornment on the pharaoh, it was used for jewellery and in amulets. However, another important use is as the hieroglyph. For Uraeus ornament as a mummy grave example, See: Djedptahiufankh, High Priest of 21st Dynasty, Shoshenq I; the simplest hieroglyph is the "Cobra". The Rosetta Stone uses the plural of the last example, "3 × "god flag" with Cobra at each base of flag"; the story of the Rosetta Stone has the king listing his reasons for being honored, in return, "The Gods and Goddesses" reward him. The last two-thirds of the Rosetta Stone relates how he will be honored, including erecting the Rosetta Stone, for all to read. Another example of the hieroglyph usage is as adornments upon the hieroglyph for "shrine", for "buildings". Before the New Kingdom Period, the body of the Uraeus coiled in around in circles behind its raised head on the Blue Crown.
The king is most depicted wearing the Blue Crown in combat and the aftermath of combat scenes. Additionally, the smaller scale king wore the Blue Crown when depicted in a protective group of deities. Colossal statues of the king wearing a Blue Crown are rare. Depictions of the Blue Crown with its Uraeus does not decorate royal tombs until late in the Ramesside Period; the deity-on-earth king was thought to require extra protection in his mortal form, emphasizing the protective qualities of the Uraeus. The Uraeus was crafted from precious metals, most gold and less silver, adorned with gemstones; the angelic seraphim, found in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish and Islamic traditions, are associated with serpents and
Opening of the mouth ceremony
The opening of the mouth ceremony was an ancient Egyptian ritual described in funerary texts such as the Pyramid Texts. The ceremony involved a symbolic animation of a statue or mummy by magically opening its mouth so that it could breathe and speak. There is evidence of this ritual from the Old Kingdom to the Roman Period. Special tools were used to perform the ceremony, such as a ritual adze, an arm shaped ritual censer, a spooned blade known as a peseshkaf, a serpent-head blade, a variety of other amulets. A calf's leg was held up to the lips painted on the coffin; the ancient Egyptians believed that in order for a person's soul to survive in the afterlife it would need to have food and water. The opening of the mouth ritual was thus performed so that the person who died could eat and drink again in the afterlife; the ceremony involved up to 75 "episodes" and, in its most complete version, included the following stages: Episodes 1–9 Preliminary rites Episodes 10–22 Animation of the statue Episodes 23–42 Meat offerings aligned with upper Egypt Episodes 43–46 Meat offerings aligned with lower Egypt Episodes 47–71 Funerary meal Episodes 72–75 Closing ritesThe Book of the Dead contains a spell for this process, which the deceased may use on themselves: Translating as "opening of the mouth," the Egyptian terms for the ritual are wpt-r and um-r.
According to Ann Macy Roth, the verb wpi connotes an opening that splits, divides or separates: "it can be used, for example, to describe the separation of two combatants, the dividing of time, or an analysis or determination of the truth." Parallels between the Opening of the Mouth and Psalm 51 have been noted. The parallels include: Mentions of ritual washing with special herbs. Restoration of broken bones. "O Lord, open thou my lips". Sacrifices. Ancient Egyptian burial customs
Heka was the deification of magic and medicine in ancient Egypt. The name is the Egyptian word for "magic". According to Egyptian literature, Heka existed "before duality had yet come into being." The term ḥk3 was used to refer to the practice of magical rituals. The name Heka is identical with the Egyptian word ḥk3w "magic"; this hieroglyphic spelling includes the symbol for the word ka, the ancient Egyptian concept of the vital force. The Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts depict ḥk3w as a supernatural energy; the "cannibal pharaoh" must devour other gods to gain this magical power. Heka was elevated to a deity in his own right and a cult devoted to him developed. By the Coffin Texts, Heka is said to be created at the beginning of time by the creator Atum. Heka is depicted as part of the tableau of the divine solar barge as a protector of Osiris capable of blinding crocodiles. During the Ptolemaic dynasty, Heka's role was to proclaim the pharaoh's enthronement as a son of Isis, holding him in his arms. Heka appears as part of a divine triad in Esna, capital of the Third Nome, where he is the son of ram-headed Khnum and a succession of goddesses.
His mother was alternately said to be Nebetu'u, lion-headed Menhit, the cow goddess Mehetweret, before settling on Neith, a war and mother goddess. Other deities connected with the force of ḥk3w include Hu, Werethekau, whose name means "she who has great magic"; as Egyptologist Ogden Goelet, Jr. explains, magic in The Egyptian Book of the Dead is problematic. The text uses various words corresponding to'magic,' for the Egyptians thought magic was a legitimate belief; as Goelet explains: "Heka magic is many things, above all, it has a close association with speech and the power of the word. In the realm of Egyptian magic, actions did not speak louder than words--they were one and the same thing. Thought, deed and power are theoretically united in the concept of heka
Kek is the deification of the concept of primordial darkness in the Ancient Egyptian Ogdoad cosmogony of Hermopolis. The Ogdoad consisted of four pairs of four male gods paired with their female counterparts. Kek's female counterpart was Kauket. Kek and Kauket in some aspects represent night and day, were called "raiser up of the light" and the "raiser up of the night", respectively; the name is written as kk or kkwy with a variant of the sky hieroglyph in ligature with the staff associated with the word for "darkness" kkw. In the oldest representations, Kekui is given the head of a serpent, Kekuit the head of either a frog or a cat. In one scene, they are identified with Kait. In the Greco-Roman period, Kek's male form was depicted as a frog-headed man, the female form as a serpent-headed woman, as were all four dualistic concepts in the Ogdoad. In relation to the 2016 United States presidential election, individuals associated with online message boards, such as 4chan, noted a similarity between Kek and the character Pepe the Frog.
This, combined with the frequent use of the term "kek" as a stand-in for the internet slang "lol", paired with images of Pepe, resulted in a resurgence of interest in the ancient deity. Heqet Erebus Seawright, Caroline. "Kek and Kauket, Deities of Darkness and Night"