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The system of writing employed by the people called Great Egyptians was probably entirely pictorial either at the time „f "hierifwhen they first arrived in Egypt, or during the time that they giypWc still lived in their original home. We, however, know of no wriUnginscription in which pictorial characters alone are used, for the earliest specimens of their writing known to us contain alphabetical characters. The Egyptians had three kinds of writing—Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, and Demotic; soon after the preaching of Saint Mark at Alexandria, the Christian population made use of the Greek alphabet, with the addition of certain characters which they borrowed from the demotic; this method of writing was called Coptic.
Hieroglyphics, from the Greek iepoy\v<f)iK6<;, were com- Oldest monly employed for inscriptions upon temples, tombs, coffins, giyphic instatues, and stelae, and many copies of the Book of the Dead ^"P1" were written in them. The earliest hieroglyphic inscription at present known is found on the monument of Shera, parts of which are preserved in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford and in the Gizeh Museum; it dates from the Ilnd dynasty. Hieroglyphics were used in Egypt for writing the names of Roman Emperors and for religious purposes until the third century after Christ, at least.
Hieratic, from the Greek lepariicos, was a style of cursive writing much used by the priests in copying literary compositions on papyrus; during the Xlth or Xllth dynasty wooden coffins were inscribed in hieratic with religious texts. The oldest document in hieratic is the famous Prisse papyrus, Oldest which records the counsels of Ptah-hetep to his son; the com- ^5"^ position itself is about a thousand years older than this tionpapyrus, which was probably inscribed about the Xlth dynasty. Drafts of inscriptions were written upon flakes of calcareous stone in hieratic, and at a comparatively early date hieratic was used in writing copies of the Book of the Dead. Hieratic was used until about the fourth century after Christ.
Demotic, from the Greek S^fioriKov, is a purely conventional modification of hieratic characters, which preserve little of their original form, and was used for social and business B. M. 2 A
purposes; in the early days of Egyptian decipherment it was called enchorial, from the Greek eyxwpios. The demotic writing appears to have come into use about B.C. 900, and The it survived until about the fourth century after Christ. In ldndsof tne time of the Ptolemies three kinds of writing were inscribed writing side by side Up0n documents of public importance, hiero
used in .1-. . , , 1 /■
Egypt. glyphic, Greek, and Demotic; examples are the stele of Canopus, set up in the ninth year of the reign of Ptolemy III. Euergetes I., B.C. 247-222, at Canopus, to record the benefits which this king had conferred upon his country, and the famous Rosetta Stone, set up at Rosetta in the eighth year of the reign of Ptolemy V. Epiphanes (B.C. 205-182), likewise to commemorate the benefits conferred upon Egypt by himself and his family, etc., etc. On the Rosetta Stone
hieroglyphic writing is called jjfjSj ~~~>C | j na en neter met, "writing of divine words," Demotic, ^ (J (| (Sl=^ na en Sat, "writing of letters," and Greek [11 V ^ \\
^ j seXa*en Haui-nebu, "writing of the Greeks." A century or two after the Christian era Greek had obtained such a hold upon the inhabitants of Egypt, that the native Christian population, the disciples and followers of Saint Mark, were obliged to use the Greek alphabet to write down the Egyptian, that is to say Coptic, translation of the books of the Old and New Testaments, but they borrowed six signs from the demotic forms of ancient Egyptian characters to express the sounds which they found unrepresented in Greek. These signs are—
S = Iflfl SH; q = F;
£>= I Ch; & = I H;
X = J, TCH, like Turk. ;fT" = *^z*> K.
Coptic The knowledge of the ancient hieroglyphics was fast dying
wnung' out, and the phonetic values of many of those in use at this period were altered. The name Copt is derived from kii, the Arabic form of the Coptic form of the Greek name for Egyptian, AlyvTrrio<;. The Coptic language is, at base, a dialect of ancient Egyptian; many of the nouns and verbs found in the hieroglyphic texts remain unchanged in Coptic, and a large number of others can, by making proper allowance for phonetic decay and dialectic differences, be identified without difficulty.
The Coptic dialect of Upper Egypt, called "Sahidic" Dialects of (from Arab. Juoue), or Theban, was the older and richer Coptlc* dialect; that of Lower Egypt was called Boheiric, from the province of Boheira in the Delta. The latter dialect has been wrongly called Bashmuric, and as it appears to have been exclusively the language of Memphis, it has obtained generally the name "Memphitic "; the dialect of Bushmur on the Lake of Menzaleh appears to have become extinct about A.D. 900, and to have left no traces of itself behind. The Coptic translation of the Bible was considered by Renaudet, Wilkins, Woide, and George, to be as old as the second century of our era; more modern scholars, however, are inclined to assert that it is not older than the eighth century. For an account of the revival of Coptic studies in Europe, see Quatremere, Recherches Critiques et Historiques sur la Langtie et la Literature de VEgypte, Paris, 1808, and for a list of the printed literature of the Copts, see Stern, Koptische Grammatik, pp. 441-447. The recognition of the fact that a knowledge of Coptic is most valuable as a preliminary to the study of hieroglyphics, probably accounts for the large and increasing share of the attention of scholars which this language receives.
Mummies Of Animals, Reptiles, Birds,
The most common of the animals, reptiles, birds, and fishes which the Egyptians regarded as emblems of or sacred to the gods, and therefore mummified with great reverence and care, were :—Bull, Antelope, Jackal, Hippopotamus, Cat, Monkey or Ape, Crocodile, Ichneumon, Hedgehog, Shrewmouse, Ibis, Hawk, Frog, Toad, Scorpion, Beetle, Snake, and the Latus, Oxyrhynchus and Silurus fishes.
Apis Bull, in Egyptian ^ ^ Hap, mummies are
tolerably common; they were mummified with great honour, and buried in sarcophagi at Sakkarah. The oldest are probably those of the XVIIIth dynasty.
Antelope, in Egyptian ffi ^ | P ^ *a,ies or ^ ^ | mahef, mummies are rare; a good specimen is
B.M. No. 6783a.
Cat, in Egyptian ^ (J ^> man, mummies are very
common, and exhibit many methods of bandaging with linen of two colours; they were placed in bronze or wooden cases, made in the form of a cat, the eyes of which were inlaid with obsidian, rock-crystal, or coloured paste. Wooden cat-cases often stand on pedestals, and are painted white, green, etc. Mummified kittens were placed in rectangular bronze or wooden cases, which, at times, are surmounted with figures Greek of cats. Diodorus says (I., 83) that when a cat died all the Ixmcerning inmates of the house shaved their eyebrows as a sign of the cat. mourning, and although the statement by the same writer that the Egyptians slew a Roman who had accidentally killed a cat may be somewhat exaggerated, there is no doubt that the animal sacred to Bast was treated with great respect in Egypt, and that dead bodies of the animals were sent to be buried, after embalmment, to Bubastis. The cat was fed with specially prepared bread soaked in milk, and chopped fish.
Mummies Crocodile, in Egyptian emsuh, mummies
etc. of a large size are not common; small crocodiles, lizards, and other members of that family were embalmed and placed in rectangular bronze or wooden cases, the tops of which were frequently surmounted by a figure of this reptile in relief.
Ichneumon mummies were placed in bronze cases, made in the shape of this animal.
Shrew-mice mummies are not common ; they were placed in rectangular bronze cases, surmounted by a figure of this animal.
Ibis, in Egyptian [TJ J ^> habu, mummies,
embalmed, and buried in earthenware jars, stopped with plaster, are very common.
The Hawk, in Egyptian J (J bdk, when mum
mified, was placed either in a rectangular bronze case or in a bronze case in the form of a hawk.
Frogs, in Egyptian ^ A ^ heqet, and Toads, when embalmed, were placed in cases made of bronze or steatite.
Scorpion, in Egyptian P*^*^1^ Serq, mummies arc
very rare; they were placed in rectangular cases, inscribed with the name of Isis-Serq, which were surmounted by figures of the scorpion, with the head of a woman wearing disk and horns (B.M. No. 11,629).
Beetle, in Egyptian ^ ^ ^ ^ or ^ ^ ^ XePer> rarely £j~^flf dbcb, mummies were deposited in cases of wood (B.M. No. 8654a; or stone (B.M. No. 2880).
Snake mummies are very common, and were either Mummies placed in rectangular bronze or wooden cases, or wrapped °[,fepUles' in many bandages and laid in pits. Bronze snake-cases usually have a figure of the snake coiled up in relief upon them, but sometimes the head, which is human and erect, wears the double crown and uraeus (B.M. No 688if); one" example having the head of a hawk is also known (B.M. No. 6879). The uraeus serpent, in Egyptian °:^^1IUL Arart, was the most commonly mummified.
Fish were mummified largely, and were either placed singly in cases of bronze or wood, or several were bandaged up in a bundle and laid in a pit prepared for the purpose. Many fish were known to the Egyptians, and the commoner
sorts were (j ^ ° dnnu = <f>dypo<;, ^ aba, ^rDj^v «M 5^ "art,
J o ^> bctu; the usual name for fish in general was