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hieroglyphic

hieroglyphic (hī´rəglĬf´Ĭk, hī´ərə–) [Gr.,=priestly carving], type of writing used in ancient Egypt. Similar pictographic styles of Crete, Asia Minor, and Central America and Mexico are also called hieroglyphics (see Minoan civilization; Anatolian languages; Maya; Aztec). Interpretation of Egyptian hieroglyphics, begun by Jean-François Champollion, is virtually complete; the other hieroglyphics are only very imperfectly understood. The distinguishing feature of hieroglyphics is that they are conventionalized pictures used chiefly to represent meanings that seem arbitrary and are seldom obvious. Egyptian hieroglyphics appear in several stages: the first dynasty (3110–2884 BC), when they were already perfected; the Old Kingdom; the Middle Kingdom, when they were beginning to go out of use; the New Empire, when they were no longer well understood by the scribes; and the late hieroglyphics (from 500 BC), when the use of them was a tour de force. With a basic number of 604 symbols, hieroglyphics were written in several directions, including top to bottom, but usually from right to left with the pictographs facing the beginning of the line.

There were in general three uses to which a given hieroglyphic might be put (though very few were used for all three purposes): as an ideogram, as when a sign resembling a man meant "man" or a closely connected idea (thus a man carrying something meant "carrying" ); as a phonogram, as when an owl represented the sound m, because the word for owl had m for its principal consonant; or as a determinative, an unpronounced symbol placed after an ambiguous sign to indicate its classification (e.g., an eye to indicate that the preceding word has to do with looking or seeing). As hieroglyphic developed, most words came to require determinatives. The phonograms were, of course, the controlling factor in the progress of hieroglyphic writing, because of the fundamental convenience of an alphabet.

In the Middle Kingdom a developed cursive, the hieratic, was extensively used for private documents where writing speed was essential. In the last centuries BC a more developed style, the demotic, supplanted the hieratic. Where the origin of most hieratic characters could be plainly seen in the hieroglyphics, the demotics were too conventionalized to bear any resemblance to the hieroglyphics from which they had sprung.

Bibliography

See A. H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar (3d ed. 1957); N. Davies, Picture Writing in Ancient Egypt (1958); E. A. Budge, Egyptian Language (8th ed. 1966); H. G. Fischer, Ancient Egyptian Calligraphy (1983); W. V. Davies, Egyptian Hieroglyphics (1988).

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"hieroglyphic." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Hieroglyphs

Hieroglyphs

This term, normally applied to ancient Egyptian picture writing, is also used for the symbolic illustrations in astrological almanacs and for symbols produced by automatic and direct writing through mediumship. Direct writing (i.e., messages produced without contact between mediums and writing materials), although sometimes produced at séances, has also occurred during outbreaks of poltergeist phenomena, when the poltergeist distributes messages throughout a house. For example, in a disturbance in the house of Eliakim Phelps, in Stratford, Connecticut (1850-51), hieroglyphs were found on the walls and ceilings. The matter was investigated by Spiritualist medium Andrew Jackson Davis, who claimed to recognize the hieroglyphs as spiritual symbols. He interpreted them as friendly messages from spiritual powers.

Sources:

Capron, E. W. Modern Spiritualism: Its Facts and Fanaticisms. Boston: B. Marsh; New York: Patridge and Brittan, 1855.

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hieroglyphics

hieroglyphics Writing system used in ancient Egypt and, by extension, those of ancient Crete, Asia Minor, Central America and Mexico. The Egyptian system of hieroglyphics (pictorial characters) arose sometime before 3100 bc. At first they were purely picture symbols. The word ‘sun’ was represented by a circle with a dot inside. In due course, they also came to be used conceptually, with symbols such as that for ‘sun’ also standing for ‘day’. Eventually, many symbols were used phonetically. The ‘sun’ symbol, for instance, stood for a syllable that contained the same combination of consonants but had a different meaning. By the 7th century, hieroglyphics were used for business and literary purposes. As ancient Egyptian was supplanted by Greek, hieroglyphics died out. Most Egyptian texts have been deciphered, thanks to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone (1799).

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hieroglyphic

hi·er·o·glyph·ic / ˌhī(ə)rəˈglifik/ • n. (hieroglyphics) writing consisting of hieroglyphs. ∎  enigmatic or incomprehensible symbols or writing: tattered notebooks filled with illegible hieroglyphics. • adj. of or written in hieroglyphs. ∎  (esp. in art) stylized, symbolic, or enigmatic in effect. DERIVATIVES: hi·er·o·glyph·i·cal adj. hi·er·o·glyph·i·cal·ly adv.

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"hieroglyphic." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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hieroglyphic

hieroglyphic pertaining to ancient Egyptian writing; sb. character in such picture-writing; symbolic or enigmatic figure. XVI. — F. hiéroglyphique or late L. hieroglyphicus — Gr. hierogluphikós, f. hierós sacred + gluphġ carving.
Hence, as back-formation or after F. hiéroglyphe, hieroglyph XVII.

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"hieroglyphic." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"hieroglyphic." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hieroglyphic-1

hieroglyphic

hieroglyphicChadic, Cycladic, Helladic, maenadic, nomadic, sporadic, triadic •heraldic • Icelandic • asdic •bardic, Haggadic, Lombardic, Sephardic •medic, paramedic, Samoyedic •Wendic • Vedic •comedic, cyclopedic, encyclopedic, medick, orthopaedic (US orthopedic) •acidic, Druidic, hasidic •dik-dik •Indic, syndic •aperiodic, episodic, geodic, melodic, methodic, monodic, parodic, periodic, prosodic, psalmodic, rhapsodic, Roddick, spasmodic, threnodic •Nordic •ludic, pudic •Talmudic •autobiographic, autographic, bibliographic, biographic, calligraphic, cartographic, choreographic, cinematographic, cryptographic, demographic, geographic, graphic, hagiographic, historiographic, holographic, hydrographic, iconographic, lithographic, monographic, orthographic, palaeographic (US paleographic), photographic, pictographic, pornographic, reprographic, Sapphic, seraphic, stenographic, telegraphic, traffic, typographic, xerographic •Efik, malefic •Delphic, Guelphic •anaglyphic, beatific, calorific, colorific, hieroglyphic, honorific, horrific, Indo-Pacific, pacific, prolific, scientific, soporific, specific, terrific, transpacific, triglyphic •catastrophic, dystrophic, philosophic, strophic, theosophic, trophic •anamorphic, biomorphic, metamorphic, Orphic, polymorphic, zoomorphic •Kufic, Sufic •demagogic • yogic

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