A Word to Readers

Dear Readers,
I am going away for some time and I will come back sometime in the middle of JANUARY. When I do, I will notify you.

I posted again on The Light.

Hi, I will post every Saturday from now on, but there might be a few exceptions. If so, I will notify you. The new post I have posted today will be continued every week on the same post. Notice that I have put the date on the top left hand corner. I will do so every week so that you know where you have left off.

At the same time, I would like to thank all of you faithful readers for encouraging me. Your encouragement has motivated me to publish a book. In fact, Dawn is going to be my first book. The prologue I posted on this blog is a rough draft of the book's prologue. I'll keep you posted on my progress, but I cannot reveal the details --Book Progress: Chapter 14

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Egyptian Writing

This is an essay I did some time ago.

Egypt Written Language
Caitlyn Tjong
The Egyptian civilization flourished along the Nile River in the northeast corner of Africa around 3100 B.C.E. Grand festivals like the Opet Festival brought all of the different social groups together in dance and celebration, but in everyday life, these classes or groups were separated. The social classes began with the pharaoh on top, then government officials, priests, scribes, artisans, and last of all, peasants. The scribes’ legacy still lives on today through their writing, which recorded Egypt’s rich culture and monumental achievements, preserving Egypt’s legacy forever. The written language of the land of the pharaohs, along with scribes, hieroglyphs, and papyrus, helped Egypt’s rich culture and religion thrive today.
Scribes, pronounced “sesh” in Egyptian, were a vital part of the written language of Egypt and held revered  positions in Egyptian society. Thus, many ambitions of young boys were to be scribes for profession. Those  who trained to be scribes stayed in scribe school, a temple courtyard, for five years and began at the age of nine. A common saying to encourage these young students was that "jewelers and metalworkers choked in the heat of their furnaces; weavers had to put up with cramped conditions; while the scribe could look forward to freedom from taxes, authority, and immortality through his writings." Being a scribe then was a great honor, since they could look forward to freedom from taxes, authority, and live on through their writings. 
 Scribes used reed brushes with sharpened tips for precision writing. Pigments were made from various minerals and rocks, which gave the ink the hue needed. For example, charcoal created a deep black, red ocher created rose red, and blue and green minerals provided the scribes with shades of green and blue. The Egyptian scribes stored these tools that were so vital to writing in a handy box. They also kept a document box with their past writings for use if necessary. Scribes, who were also writers, accountants, engineers, and administrators, kept records and lists, calculated taxes, and paid wages. In addition, scribes were the ones who wrote the spells on the stone walls of a tomb to help the deceased reach the After Life. 
The Egyptians believed that whatever they wrote or painted came to life, so left missing parts in depictions of dangerous creatures, such as the snake. In preparation for a tomb, the craftsmen would carve or paint the hieroglyphs on the walls. When they had finished, the head scribe would check the work over to make sure all the writing was correct. A missing stroke could mean a completely different thing. 
Another use of writing was for communication in battle. Military leaders were first trained as scribes so they could understand urgent messages sent to them. The role of the scribe was very significant in ancient Egypt. They were revered and loved by the people, and played a major part in keeping the once-great civilization alive today. One even became pharaoh, and another High Priest of the Sun God. In the ancient times, the scribe was the breath of Egyptian society, and now, the stream of the lake of Egypt's legacy.
Hieroglyphs, the written language of Egypt, were prerequisite to Egypt’s culture. The word hieroglyph actually came from the Greek word for “sacred carving”, and represented groups of consonants. It was divided into three groups: namely logograms, signs that wrote out morphemes and each constituted a word or a meaningful part of a word that couldn't be divided into independent grammatical parts. Morphemes were minimal grammatical units of language. Phonograms, signs that represented one or more sounds, were the second. And determinatives, signs that denoted neither morphemes sound and helped meaningful groups of signs, the last. Egyptians believed that words were a gift of Thoth, a god of knowledge. For this reason, they call hieroglyphs “mdwt ntr”, god’s words. 
Hieroglyphs had over 700 different signs. It was kept complicated through the years because the scribes wanted to keep their status significant or high. If many people could master god’s words, the scribes would not be able to keep their special position. Reading and writing would be mundane. Hieroglyphs had multiple uses, carved or written on state monuments, temples, tombs, and religious papyri. It was written from left to right, right to left, and top to bottom. Later on, a faster form of this writing, hieratic, was invented. This fast-written version of hieroglyphs was used in letters, business contracts, stories, and was written only from right to left. An even later form of writing was Demotic, an even more rapid script. Scribes chose pictures of their script from the world around them. For example, the barn owl represented “m”. 
For many years, archeologists could not decipher this beautiful language, and Egypt’s literature and rich mythology were lost in the dark shadows. But then, a basalt stone was discovered, a simple slate that would forever change the world's knowledge of Egypt. The Rosetta stone had hieroglyphs, Demotic, and Greek writing on it. Jean Francis Champollion, a French scholar, was the first to realize the significance of the Rosetta stone. He cracked the mystery of Egyptian writing and was able to read Egyptian. The mist that shrouded Egypt’s writing was lifted and all around, archeologists could read Egypt’s rich literature and understand its meaning. Hieroglyphs helped preserve Egypt’s culture and religion, so that we better understand it today.
Papyrus, a triangular-stemmed reed that grew to be about 12 feet tall and flourished around the banks of the Nile, was also significant in Egyptian writing. The Cyprus Papyrus was made into one of the world’s first papers, Papyrus. First, the Egyptians would put strips of the plant’s inner pith in two layers, one horizontal and one vertical, on top of each other and applied pressure on it by placing stones or mallets on it. Then, it would be covered with linen. The pith strips would weld together in their own sap. Every since the discovery of Papyrus, around 3000 B.C.E., Egyptians wrote on papyrus instead of cotton, which they wrote on in the olden days. Papyrus was not only used for paper; it was also made into bats, rope, and baskets. 
The Papyrus Clump is an Egyptian symbol. It represents life and the marsh in which all life came from. In the beginning of the Old Kingdom, it was a symbol of Lower Egypt. Papyrus greatly influenced the Egyptians’ lives because papyrus was a quicker way for the Egyptians to write down their information and was how they were able to preserve their culture and religion.
Egypt’s rich culture and religion were preserved by its home's written language. Scribes were people who recorded information in ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs were the writing system that was based on groups of consonants. Papyrus was the material that Egyptians wrote on and allowed them to preserve their religion and culture. Thanks to the writing system of Egypt, its legacy lives on today.