Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

TCH or S (?) 3 Hieroglyphic writing.-The hieroglyph is a picture of an object, animate or inanimate, e.g., o an eye, na ram, Is a hare, sa vulture, pe a duck, * a star, 1 an obelisk,

a face, I a leg.

Now pictures may also represent ideas, e.g., , a wall leaning on one side represents “falling "; 1, a musical instrument, symbolizes “joy, happiness, pleasure," etc. ;

, a seal, represents something of which great care is taken, i.e., " treasure”; 80, a man holding a vessel placed on his head, symbolizes “to bear, to carry"; 7, the sky with a star hanging from it, suggests “night”; and so on. Hieroglyphs used in this way are called ideographs. Every object had a name, therefore each picture, or hieroglyph, was a word-sign, and a list of these would have made a dictionary in the earliest times. At one time all hieroglyphs were syllabic, and the Egyptians had no alphabetic hieroglyphs; and if scribes had nceded to write down letter by letter the name of some foreign product, or the name of a foreign king, supposing they did not possess syllables suitable in sound, they would have been unable to do so. In fact the Egyptians needed an alphabet, and the oldest inscriptions of any length show that they already possessed one.

About the origin of alphabetic hieroglyphs opinions differ. They probably arose in this way. The sounds of the first letters of the names of certain objects were given to the pictures of such objects, and henceforward the pictures, or hieroglyphs, bore those phonetic values, and so became the letters of an alphabet. Each name chosen for this purpose appears to have consisted of a syllable containing an initial

consonant, and one or more vowels. The vowel, or vowels, was dropped, and the name of the object, or the syllable, passed into a purely alphabetic value. Thus is an alphabetic hieroglyph with the phonetic value of B, and it may well represent the consonant of some word like Bu “a place,” or Bia iron.” Siinilarly 5 , which has the phonetic value of r, probably represents the consonant of some word like Rumouth,” in Coptic Rô; and sa with the phonetic value of F probably represents the consonant of some word like fa " to carry.” Thus we have a series of alphabetic characters or letters. Signs having alphabetic values are used to forin words without any reference to their pictorial or ideographic meanings. One of the words for "knife" is sfnt, which is thus spelt 1 mm. Now s is a picture of a chair-back ; ta f is a picture of a snail(?); mm n is a picture of the wavy surface of water; and o is a picture of a human hand stretched out flat; in the word sfnt the picture meanings of the characters play no part, and the signs are used to express alphabetic sounds only.

As long as the Egyptians used picture writing pure and simple its meaning was easily understood, but, when they began to spell their words with alphabetic signs and syllabic values of picture signs which had no reference whatever to the original meaning of the signs, it was found necessary to indicate in some way the ineaning and even the sounds of many of the words so written. This they did by adding to them signs which are called determinatives. Thus the word āņā ad means both" to stand” and “boat,” but when the writer wished the reader to give it the former meaning he added to the word a pair of legs , thus , and when the latter he added the picture of a boat ruas, thus y sus Similarly men man means “to abide, be stable,” and also “ to be ill,” and the meanings are distinguished by the use of the determinatives and the former signifying “an abstract idea," and the latter “discomfort,” or “evil.” The following words show the use of the determinatives ; a god, actions performed with the mouth. I a woman, woa

country, Q the skin of an animal, mom water, ~ actions performed with a knife, and o a pot of unguent or liquid.

The god Khnemu glu)
Meļu “to speak” foi
Sat“ daughter"

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Hieroglyphs are written in perpendicular or horizontal lines as in A and B. In these examples the words are to be read in the direction in which the birds face, i.e., from left to right.

- OMDAT

ปี 6 D มา 1
MAA

1 These words mean: “If thou wouldst be a perfect man make thou [thy] son well pleasing to God.”

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The writing materials consisted of papyrus, palette, reed-pens, ink and ink-pot. Papyrus was made from the stem of the papyrus plant (Cyperus Papyrus), which grew in the marshes and pools near the Nile; it is no longer cultivated in Egypt, but is found in the Sûdân, where it grows to a height of from 20 to 25 ft., and has very thick stems. The exact meaning and derivation of “ papyrus ” are unknown, but the word is probably of Egyptian origin.” A sheet of papyrus was made in the following way: The stem was cut into thin strips, which were laid side by side perpendicularly, and upon these another series of strips was laid horizontally ; a thin solution of gum, or paste, was run in between them, after which the sheet was pressed and dried. By joining a number of such sheets together rolls of almost any length could be made. The longest papyrus in the Egyptian Collection in the British Museum, No. 9999, is 135 ft. long and i ft. 5 in. wide ; the Papyrus of Ani measures 78 ft. by i ft. 3 in. ; the Papyrus of Nebseni, 76 ft. by 84 in. ; the Papyrus of Nu, 65 ft. 6 in. by i ft. 1. in. ; the Papyrus of Nekht, 46 ft. 7 in. by i ft. 1. in.

The palette, in Egyptian mesthi M o , usually consisted of a rectangular piece of wood, from eight to sixteen inches long, and from two to three broad, at one end of which were sunk a number of oval or circular hollows to hold ink or paint. Down the middle was cut a groove, sloping at one end, in which the writing reeds were placed ; these were kept in position by a piece of wood glued across the middle of the palette, or by a sliding cover, which also served to protect the reeds from injury. A very good collection of palettes is exhibited in the Third Egyptian Room, Table-case C. Of special interest are the palettes of Ba-nefer, of the reign of

These words mean : “I have given bread to the famishing, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and a boat to him that was shipwrecked.”

? A recent view makes “papyrus ” to be derived from the conjectural name pa-p-ior “that which is of the river.”

[graphic][graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »