The History of Hieroglyphics
The history of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt is believed to date back as far as 3000 B.C. Scholars offer varying opinions regarding the identity of Egyptian hieroglyphics inventors. While not much is known about the inventors and the early history of hieroglyphics, the study of this ancient system of writing remains applicable even in today's modern society.
Throughout the long history of hieroglyphics, this system of writing utilizing ancient Egyptian symbols underwent many changes. There were six primary periods during which this ancient language was used in Egypt. A weakened form of the language is still spoken today; although only in the Coptic Church. It is thought that from the first use of the language until the last known use around 500 A.D., there were thousands of symbols used. While all of these symbols were not primarily used to write in hieroglyphics at the same time, this ancient language still remained extremely difficult to learn. At any given time, there were likely at least 700 or so symbols used and each symbol often had more than one use. One of the most interesting facts about hieroglyphics is that one symbol alone could have up to three meanings and could be either phonetic or simply a representative of the picture it depicted.
After the Roman Empire began its rule of the Egyptian nation, hieroglyphics faded from popular use. By the time Napoleon's army invaded Egypt in 1798 and subsequently discovered the Rosetta stone a year later, the system of writing using ancient Egyptian symbols was a thorough mystery to foreigners. While Napoleon's invasion of Egypt is considered by most scholars to be a dismal failure, the discovery of the famed Rosetta Stone was monumental in the history of hieroglyphics. Upon examination of the black asphalt tablet, scholars determined that the same inscription was written in two forms of ancient Egyptian symbols; ancient hieroglyphics and demotic hieroglyphics. The latter form had been developed towards the end of the ancient language's use and utilized a cursive script. The most amazing facts about hieroglyphics contained on the Rosetta Stone was that they came with a Greek translation. It was discovered that the Rosetta Stone contained affirmations in hieroglyphics quotes regarding the legitimacy of a ruling family around 196 B.C. The Ptolemy family, of Macedonian descent, had ruled Egypt since the days of Alexander the Great; when one of his generals was appointed to the throne. Cleopatra was descended from this same family; many generations later. The Greek translation of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics allowed modern scholars to begin piecing together an understanding of the history of hieroglyphics.
The Use of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics
Throughout the history of hieroglyphics these ancient Egyptian symbols were utilized for a variety of purposes. It is well known that hieroglyphics were prominently displayed on pyramids and tombs of the royalty. Hieroglyphics obviously played an important role in conveying the history of the Egyptian nation and particularly the accomplishments and feats of the Egyptian pharaohs. Excavations of the pyramids have proven that hieroglyphics were also used on jewelry as well as nameplates for royalty, referred to as cartouche.