Writing in Ancient Egypt

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Collection

Joshua J. Mark
by
published on 05 July 2024

Writing in ancient Egypt developed sometime prior to the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150-2613 BCE) and came to be recognized as a gift of the god Thoth who empowered humanity through the written word. Writing preserved memory, honored the gods, and allowed for long-distance communication with others, including the souls of the dead in the afterlife.

This collection includes a brief survey of the subject as well as some primary sources on how the ancient Egyptians viewed writing and the two deities – Thoth and Seshat – most closely associated with the craft.

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Questions & Answers

When did writing start in ancient Egypt?

Writing in ancient Egypt developed sometime prior to the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150-2613 BCE.

What is the ancient Egyptian writing system called?

Ancient Egyptian writing is called hieroglyphics, which means "sacred carvings" and was understood as a gift from the god Thoth. There were four scripts used in ancient Egypt: hieroglyphs, hieratic, demotic, and Coptic.

Who was the god of writing in ancient Egypt?

Thoth was the god of writing in ancient Egypt, who was assisted by the goddess Seshat.

How was writing used in ancient Egypt?

Writing in ancient Egypt was used just as it is today - to communicate - but it was also believed to be magical in that, by committing something to writing, one brought it into existence. Spells, for example, once written down brought the "magic" of that spell into earthly existence.
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About the Author

Joshua J. Mark
Joshua J. Mark is World History Encyclopedia's co-founder and Content Director. He was previously a professor at Marist College (NY) where he taught history, philosophy, literature, and writing. He has traveled extensively and lived in Greece and Germany.

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