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Egyptian Languages: Explained

LouiseBascombe23 January 2018

In our collection, we have representations of texts in all the major Egyptian languages.

What, more than one? Yes! From ancient Egypt to historical Egypt to modern Egypt, there were many different scripts and languages used…

Hieroglyphs:

Limestone stela hieroglyph fragments with words from hymns (UC14583)

Limestone stela fragments with words from hymns (UC14583)

 

The script that is most recognisably Ancient Egyptian®. One of the oldest scripts used by the ancient Egyptians – and the script with the most longevity – its origins can be seen very early on in Egypt’s history, starting out life as single or small groups of signs that represented entire concepts or specific sounds. Already in the Early Dynastic Period (3100-2686BC), these signs were beginning to become standardised and by the 3rd Dynasty (2686-2613BC) were used in a wide range of contexts. They were, however, especially associated with religious texts, as it was believed that the beauty and monumental nature of hieroglyphs indicated that they were the ‘words of the gods’ (medu-netjer) and intended to be read by them.

 

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Coptic Christmas: and a Myriad of Calendars (advent or otherwise)

EdmundConnolly29 November 2013

Many of us may be looking forward to Christmas in a few weeks’ time, but for many of our Egyptian (and other Coptic readers) Christmas will not be until January 7th 2014.

UC75907, Coptic embroidery from the Petrie Museum
UC75907, Coptic embroidery from the Petrie Museum

History

Coptic is a bit of a hydra of a term, with a few meanings that can be used synonymously or separately. The word Coptic derives from the Greek ‘aigyptos’ referring to the people of Egypt, originally this term had nothing to do with religious order or identity. Whilst ‘Egypt’ comes from more of an Ancient Egyptian pronunciation, Copt most probably held an Arabic influence, with the initial ‘ai’ being dropped to produce the plosive ‘K’ sound (Gregorious 1982, Downer).

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