HIEROGLYPHS AND BEYOND: A HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN LANGUAGE
Dr Jessica Nitschke, lecturer, School of Languages and Literatures, UCT
The language of ancient Egypt is one of the longest continually attested in the world, emerging in its written form ca. 3200 BC and remaining in active use until around the eleventh century AD. This three-lecture course will introduce students to the richness of this language tradition and its writing systems. It will begin with the modern decipherment of hieroglyphs and our evolving understanding of this ancient language. Next, the emergence of writing in Egypt and the principles of the hieroglyphic system will be investigated. The final lecture will explore the historical development and cultural contexts—religious, literary, and day-to-day—of the different writing systems, including hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic, and coptic.
1. Hieroglyphs: discovery and decipherment
2. The origins of the writing in ancient Egypt
3. Scripts, dialects, and contexts: the evolution of ancient Egyptian writing systems
Brewer, D.J. and E. Teeter. 2007. Egypt and the Egyptians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ray, J. 1986. The Emergence of Writing in Egypt. World Archaeology, 17(3), 307-316.
Robinson, A. 2007. The Story of Writing: Alphabets Hieroglyphs & Pictograms. New York: Thames & Hudson.
The lecturer will make the readings available shortly before the course.