Imagine a written language so mind boggling that it went undecipherable for over 1,000 years. It seems close to impossible that a world of our perseverance could be left in the dark for so long, and yet we failed. Hieroglyphics remained meaningless scribbles for over 1,400 years. It wasnt until 1799 that a shred of hope was discovered in a small village in the Delta of Rosetta. However, even with the help of this discovery we remained in a standstill.
The Rosetta Stone:
It wasnt until later that the French scientist Jean-Francois Champollion made a cultural bridge by use of the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone was carved around 192 B.C. with two languages, Egyptian and Greek. This was done so that government officials could understand the scripts across the nation.
In 1822 Champollion, who had a background in Greek, studied the stone. By comparing the hieroglyphics with the Demotic and Greek scripts he was able to get the gist of what was being addressed. After many painstaking years of researching other hieroglyphic writing he worked out the puzzle of what each symbol meant. Finally we could have an insight to life in this ancient time.
In the scripts of hieroglyphics there are over 600 main symbols to remember. Mostly only scribes and other people of importance were educated in the scripts. Peasants and common people were rarely taught to read.
Texts were often written on papyrus in a vertical fashion and without punctuation. Papyrus is a plant that grows in marshy areas in the region. It was sliced into thin strips and pounded together to form paper. This was one of the first usages of paper in the world.
So now that we are able to read hieroglyphics, what exactly did the ancient Egyptians have to say? Many scribes wrote spells, historical events, and stories. These were often used for official use since most of the general population was illiterate. From these texts we have been able to piece together some of the history of the ancient world.