Literature Developed by the Ancient Egyptians Using Hieroglyphics
Ancient Egyptian writing called “hieroglyphics” was once a mysterious language. Knowledge about its use was lost since the 4th century AD, until 1799 when a French soldier from Napoleon’s army found a black basalt stone slab in the Nile River after Napoleon conquered the Egyptian Nile Delta. This stone slab is inscribed with numerous hieroglyphic symbols and translations in the demotic script and in Greek. Various studies were done on copies of the inscriptions on the stone slab that was later called the “Rosetta Stone,” until finally the Frenchman Jean-François Champollion published his findings in 1822 clearly showing the correct way of reading hieroglyphics (“The Finding of the Rosetta Stone,” 2006).
Since then various studies were done to search the meanings of the different hieroglyphs found on tombs, pyramids, and various papyri found all over Egypt.
Numerous information were extracted from these studies, they found out that as early as 3200 BC Egyptians were able to Write and count on stones (“Ancient Egyptian Mathematics,” 2007), they were able to develop their own literature and record their knowledge from various areas of knowledge.
Hieroglyphs that indicate mathematical knowledge were found. They showed that as early as 2700 BC, Egyptians were able to develop the base 10 numeral system. Aside from this information, the pyramids of Giza itself are proof that Egyptians had knowledge in surveying and engineering (“Ancient Egyptian Mathematics,” 2007).
Aside from Mathematics, two important papyri were found showing Egyptian knowledge in medicine. They were able to document their knowledge in curing various ailments from burns to fractures, intestinal diseases, etc. These knowledge in medicine were found in the “Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus” (“The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus,”), and the more complete Eber’s Papyrus (“Eber’s Papyrus,” 2007).
Evidences also were found showing the religious aspect of the Egyptians. Religious texts were found and were later called “pyramid texts” (“Ancient Egyptian Tomb Literature,” 2005). This “texts” which are meant to be read at various rituals, were used to decorate falls doors and coffins of individuals.
Aside from the pyramid texts used, much more personal spells were decorated on “funerary objects” and coffins, these inscriptions were called “coffin text” (“Ancient Egyptian Tomb Literature,” 2005). This coffin text also used other funerary text such as the “Netherworld Guides,” which were carved in their coffins to help the dead on its way to the underworld.
Egyptian hieroglyphs also contained hymns written for their gods and myths and magical texts such as “The Legend of the Osiris” (“Ancient Egyptian Literature,”). This showed the kind of religion they had and the means of which they worshipped their gods. Ancient Egyptians had more than 2000 gods(“Ancient Egyptian Gods,” 2007), to honor their god they made temples and inscribed different tales about their god on the walls of these temples.
Aside from religious works, Egyptians were able to entertain themselves with various stories which we now call as “fairy tales,” wisdom text, such as “The Proverbs of Ptah Hutep” (“Literature in Ancient Egypt: A Prominent Component of Civilization,” 2005), and poems, particularly about love and passion.
Ancient Egyptians even had their own version of the Grim Brothers classic “Cinderella.” They enjoyed numerous novels such as the story of “Snohi,” a story who
“GED 130 Intro to Civilization” “Page # 3”
enjoyed centuries of fame among the Egyptians. It is a story of forgiveness and returning to your mother land.
The first documented drama was also found in ancient Egypt. This document from the time of King Menes (Narmer) around the 32nd BC is now kept at the British Museum in London. It contains a drama of the philosophical conversation between Egypt’s ancient deities as they created the world and all the living inhabitants of the Earth.
Aside from fantasy numerous inscriptions were found that relates the stories of certain individuals especially those from the royal family, this autobiographies and/or biographies in fact are one of the oldest kind of literature found in ancient Egypt (Ancient Egyptian Stories, Biographies, and Myths,” 2005).
Ancient Egyptian literature as portrayed on the hieroglyphs excavated today shows the extent of knowledge the ancient Egyptians were able to attain during their long stay as a civilization in the Nile Delta. They showed amazing understanding in mathematic and on how the “world works,” they also showed a deep understanding of the need of a person for spiritual guidance. Their works displayed their “advance” knowledge and they were able to create and discover ideas that are still considered practical and sound until today.
Ancient Egyptian Gods. (2007). Retrieved July 14, , 2007, from http://www.aldokkan.com/religion/gods.htm
Ancient Egyptian Literature. Retrieved July 14,, 2007, from http://www.aldokkan.com/art/literature.htm
Ancient Egyptian Mathematics. (2007). Retrieved July 14, 2007, from http://www.aldokkan.com/science/mathematics.htm
Ancient Egyptian Stories, Biographies, and Myths. (2005). Retrieved July 14, 2007, from http://www.eternalegypt.org/EternalEgyptWebsiteWeb/HomeServlet?ee_website_action_key=action.display.module&module_id=254&language_id=1&story_id=38
Ancient Egyptian Tomb Literature. (2005). Retrieved July 14, 2007, from http://www.eternalegypt.org/EternalEgyptWebsiteWeb/HomeServlet?ee_website_action_key=action.display.module&module_id=253&language_id=1&story_id=38
Eber’s Papyrus. (2007). Retrieved July 14,, 2007, from http://www.aldokkan.com/science/ebers.htm
The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus. Retrieved July 14,, 2007, from http://www.aldokkan.com/science/edwin_smith_surgical_papyrus.htm
The Finding of the Rosetta Stone. (2006). Retrieved July 14,, 2007, from http://www.clevelandart.org/archive/pharaoh/glyphs.html
Literature in Ancient Egypt: A Prominent Component of Civilization. (2005). Retrieved July 13, 2007,