Egypt_3_Middle_Kingdom_2007 - THE RISE OF...

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1 T HE R ISE OF C IVILIZATION [Egypt2007Lec3.wpd] February 20, 2007 T. D’Altroy E YPTIAN W RITING ; 1 ST I NTERMEDIATE , M IDDLE K INGDOM , AND 2 ND I NTERMEDIATE © Terence N. D’Altroy (sources: see previous lectures) Egyptian Writing 1. Egyptian language a. member of Afro-Asiatic language family b. includes Semitic c. African groups 1. Berber 2. Chadic: around lake Chad 3. Kushitic: southern Sudan d. significant difference between Egyptian and Semitic 1. as far as Latin and English 2. hieroglyphs: sacred carvings a. origins: unclear b. first appearance: ca. 3100 BC (Narmer’s Palette) 1. lasting till AD 40 c. script well in place by Old Kingdom: 2700 BC 1. documents on papyrus: by the early Old Kingdom 2. subjects a. astronomy b. geometry c. accounting d. surgery e. architecture 3. first appearance: fairly developed form a. seem to be missing earlier forms of the script 1. presumably fully pictographic b. possible preservation problem 1. e.g., lost papyrus 4. probably not straight introduction from Mesopotamia: Egyptian writing different in terms of a. characters b. media of expression 1. papyrus 2. incised on stone or wood surfaces 3. painted on mural surfaces 4. no clay tablets: as in Mesopotamia 5. script: mixture a. phonetic elements b. determinatives 1. tell how a character with several possible meanings is to be read in specific context 1
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c. grammatical markers 1. Egyptian script differs from Mesopotamian 2. written form for nouns and verbs varies according to grammatical context d. several forms of the script 1. hieroglyphs : used for monumental and ornamental inscriptions 2. cursive hieroglyphs : religious texts and the “Book of Kemyt” 3. hieratic : normal cursive a. everyday purposes b. form that scribes probably first learned 4. demotic a. cursive style of the north after 700 b. all of Egypt after 600 e. form of the character varied through time 1. Old Kingdom: hieroglyphic 2. cursive hieroglyphs died out during 1st millennium 3. New Kingdom: hieratic started to be used on monuments a. used on religious texts till the end f. divergence between spoken and written forms of language over time g. form varied by subject and context 1. e.g. grave characters: early religious texts 2. showy characters: later military texts h. script: poised for conversion to fully alphabetic format 1. about 24 signs 2. never simplified to this format 7. deliberate restriction of social span within which the script could be used a. possible that scribes kept things difficult b. functions 1. administrative/leadership purposes a. royal book-keeping b. dynastic recording c. letters, administration 2. literature a. narrative fiction b. instruction c. love poetry 3. religion a. cult and religious hymns b. philosophical texts c. ritual and mortuary books 4. medical and mathematical texts c. assisted system of restricted literacy 1. limited to high ranking, specialized segment of society 2. i.e., people who had the time and social standing to become literate
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ANTH V1008 taught by Professor D'altroy during the Spring '08 term at Columbia.

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Egypt_3_Middle_Kingdom_2007 - THE RISE OF...

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