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Decree. The transliteration of the Demotic, according to Hess (Roman von Stne Ha-m-us, p. 80), is :-p-hon nuter ... ua n-n-uêb' ent sâtp er-p-ma uêb er-ube p-gi-n-er mnh n-n-nuter', “a prophet, or one of the priests who are selected for the sanctuary to perform the dressing of the gods." The transliteration of the hieroglyphic text is: hen neter erpu uā åmo ābu setep er āb-ur àu smā er māret neteru em sati-sen,
The earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions are the names of the kings of the first dynasty which have been found at Naķâda and Abydos. The oldest hieratic inscription is that contained in the famous Prisse papyrus which records the advice of Ptah-ḥetep to his son. It dates from the XIth or XIIth dynasty. The demotic writing appears to have come into use about B.C. 900. Hieroglyphics were used until the third century after Christ, and hieratic and demotic for at least a century later. The inscriptions on the Rosetta and Canopus stelæ are written in hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek characters. The Egyptians inscribed, wrote, or painted inscriptions upon almost every kind of substance, but the material most used by them for their histories, and religious and other works was papyrus. Sections from the stem of the papyrus plant were carefully cut, and the layers were taken off, pressed flat, and several of them gummed one over the other transversely; thus almost any length of papyrus for writing upon could be made. The longest known is the great Harris papyrus, No. 1; it measures 135 feet by 17 inches. The scribe wrote upon the papyrus with reeds, and the inks were principally made of vegetable colours. Black and red are the commonest colours used, but some papyri are painted with as many as eleven or thirteen. The scribe's palette was a rectangular piece of wood varying from six to thirteen inches long by two, or two and a half, inches wide. In the middle was a hollow for holding the reeds, and at one end
were the circular or oval cavities in which the colours were placed.
At the beginning of the Greek rule over Egypt, the knowledge of the ancient Egyptian language began to decline, and the language of Greece began to modify and eventually to supersede that of Egypt.
When we consider that Ptolemy I., Soter, succeeded in attracting to Alexandria a large number of the greatest Greek scholars of the day, such as Euclid the mathematician, Stilpo of Megara, Theodorus of Cyrene and Diodorus Cronus the philosophers, Zenodotus the grammarian, Philetas the poet from Cos, and many others, this is not to be wondered at. The founding of the great Alexandrian Library and Museum, and the endowment of these institutions for the support of a number of the most eminent Greek philosophers and scholars, was an act of far-sighted policy on the part of Ptolemy I., whose aim was to make the learning and language of the Greeks to become dominant in Egypt. Little by little the principal posts in the Government were monopolised by the Greeks, and little by little the Egyptians became servants and slaves to their intellectually superior masters. In respect to their language, “the Egyptians were not prohibited from making use, so far as it seemed requisite according to ritual or otherwise appropriate, of the native language and of its time-hallowed written signs; in this old home, moreover, of the use of writing in ordinary intercourse the native language, alone familiar to the great public, and the usual writing must necessarily have been allowed not merely in the case of private contracts, but even as regards tax-receipts and similar documents. But this was a concession, and the ruling Hellenism strove to enlarge its domain.” Mommser The Provinces of the Roman Empire, Vol. II., p. 243. It is true that Ptolemy II., Philadelphus, employed the famous Manetho (i.e., , Mer-en-Teħuti, 'beloved of Thoth ') to draw up a history of Egypt, and an accouni
of the ancient Egyptian religion from the papyri and other native records ; but it is also true that during the reigns of these two Ptolemies the Egyptians were firmly kept in obscurity, and that the ancient priest-college of Heliopolis was suppressed. A century or two after the Christian era, Greek had obtained such a hold upon the inhabitants of Egypt that the Egyptian Christians, the followers and disciples of St. 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. The letters y, sh, 9, h,
, X, 8, ḥ, 6, č, x, g, were added from the demotic forms of hieratic characters to represent sounds which were unknown in the Greek language. During the Greek rule over Egypt many of the hieroglyphic characters had new phonetic values given to them ; by this time the knowledge of hieroglyphic writing had practically died out.
The history of the decipherment of hieroglyphics is of great interest, but lack of space prevents a complete account of it from being given here; only the most important facts connected with it can be mentioned. During the XVIthXVIIIth centuries many attempts were made by scholars to interpret the hieroglyphic inscriptions then known to the world, but they resulted in nothing useful. The fact is that they did not understand the nature of the problem to be solved, and they failed to perceive that hieroglyphic characters were used both as phonetics and determinatives in the same inscription. In 1799, a French officer called Boussard discovered at Bolbitine or Rosetta a basalt slab inscribed in the hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek characters; it was shortly after taken possession of by the English army, and sent to London, where it was carefully examined by Dr. Thomas Young.* This basalt slab is commonly known
* Thomas Young was born at Milverton, in Somersetshire, on the 13th of June, 1773; both his parents were Quakers. At the age of fourteen he is said to have been versed in Greek, Latin, French,
as the “Rosetta Stone,” and as it supplied the clue to the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and its contents are of considerable importance, a rendering of the hieroglyphic text cut upon it is given on pp. 228-240. The Society of Antiquaries published a fac-simile of the inscription, which was distributed among scholars, and Silvestre de Sacy and Åkerblad made some useful discoveries about certain parts of the demotic version of the inscription. Dr. Young was enabled, ten years after, to make translations of the three inscriptions, and the results of his studies were published in 1818. In 1822 M. Champollion* (Le Jeune) published a translation of the same inscriptions, and was enabled to make out something like an alphabet. There appears to be no doubt that he was greatly helped by the publications and labours of Young, who had succeeded in grouping certain words in demotic, and in assigning accurate values to some of the hieroglyphic characters used in writing the names of the Greek rulers of Egypt. Young made many mistakes, but much of his work was of value. Champollion, to whom the credit of definitely settling the phonetic values of several signs really belongs, had been carefully grounded in the Coptic language, and was therefore enabled with little difficulty to recognize the hieroglyphic forms of the words which were familiar to him in
Italian, Hebrew, Persian and Arabic. He took his degree of M.D. in July, 1796, in 1802 he was appointed professor of natural philosophy at the Royal Institution, and in 1810 he was elected physician to St. George's Hospital. He was not, however, a popular physician. He died on the roth of May, 1829.
* Jean François Champollion le Jeune was born at Figeac, department du Lot, in 1796. He was educated at Grenoble, and afterwards at Paris, where he devoted himself to the study of Coptic. In the year 1824 he was ordered by Charles X. to visit all the important collections of Egyptian antiquities in Europe. On his return he was appointed Direcior of the Louvre. In 1828 he was sent on a scientific mission to Egypt, and was afterwards made professor of Egyptian antiquities at the Collège de France. He died in 1831.
Coptic; Young had no such advantage. Champollion's system was subjected to many attacks, but little by little it gained ground, and the labours of other scholars have proved that he was right. The other early workers in the field of hieroglyphics were Dr. Samuel Birch in England; Dr. Lepsius in Germany, and MM. Rosellini and Salvolini in Italy. The study of hieroglyphics has become comparatively general, and each year sees books of texts published, learned papers on Egyptian grammar written, and translations made into the various European languages.
In hieroglyphic inscriptions the signs are used in two ways: I, IDEOGRAPHIC, II, PHONETIC. In the ideographic system a word is expressed by a picture or ideograph thus : wm mu, 'water'; in the phonetic system the same word is written @ m + u, no regard being paid to the fact
represents an owl and @ a rope, for their sounds only are needed. Similarly sa emsuḥ is a 'crocodile' in the ideographic system, but phonetically it is written
m+stu + ì. The ideographic system is probably older than the phonetic.
PHONETIC signs, are: I, ALPHABETIC, as m, S, u; or II, SYLLABIC, as mer, kheper, hetep.
o ; the sign I nefer can be written 0
; 3, wun
; 5, The scribes took pains to represent the exact value of these syllabic signs in order that no mistake might be made.
The IDEOGRAPHIC signs are also used as determinatives, and are placed after words written phonetically to de