Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cursive hieroglyphics

My new project will be an original short story written in Middle Egyptian, in a type of script called hieratic. This script was developed because hieroglyphics take a long time to write. Scribes developed a shortened version of these characters so that it would be easier to write the characters, resulting in a sort of ancient cursive writing.

Below is an example of this writing. It is a document written in around 1600 B.C. and it describes 48 different types of medical treatment. In my opinion, it's absoulely gorgeous.

A close-up look of the pages:

Public domain
This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923. See this page for further explanation.
United States
This image might not be in the public domain outside of the United States; this especially applies in the countries and areas that do not apply the rule of the shorter term for US works, such as Canada, Mainland China (not Hong Kong or Macao), Germany, Mexico, and Switzerland. The creator and year of publication are essential information and must be provided. See Wikipedia:Public domain and Wikipedia:Copyrights for more details.

The difficult part is that many of the characters look almost nothing like the original hieroglyphics, and as I have begun learning Middle Egyptian with the originals, I will have to learn many of the symbols from scratch. This undertaking will be massive and I don't expect to finish any time soon. So, in fact, I hesitate to call it my "next" project, since I'd like to get in some other projects before that. More on that later.

Here are the steps that I will need to take to write an original short story in hieratic:

1. Progress in my Middle Egyptian grammar a few more lessons so as to get a rudimentary understanding of the language (currently I'm on lesson 10 of 33 but a lot of the later lessons are nuances and exceptions that will help you understand Egyptian inscriptions)
2. Write out a story in English that will have simple concepts and thus be easier to translate
3. Translate it into Middle Egyptian hieroglyphics
4. Transcribe the story into hieratic script
5. Format the text on regular paper the way it will appear in the finished product.
6. Using scratch papyrus, practice each line 2 or 3 times so it looks fluid and natural
7. Produce the final papyrus

Step 1 will take the longest, obviously, so while I'm doing that, I will be posting other, simpler projects, as well as ones that I have done in the past. There are still quite a few awesome ones I haven't posted yet.

Stay tuned.

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