Hieroglyphs were in use for over three thousand years
Hieroglyphic writing appeared
in Egypt in about 3150 BC and was used until the Graeco-Roman period (the last
known texts, found at Philae, date from the fourth century AD). The chronology
of ancient Egypt may be divided into 10 periods containing in total thirty one
Fourth millennium B.C.
First to third dynasties
Fourth to sixth dynasties
||Seventh to tenth
The first known instances of writing are Sumerian (Mesopotamia c. 3300 BC). The abstract cuniform symbols may be seen at various stages of development from pictograms illustrating the objects they depict to a more mature phonetic system.
In contrast the Egyptian writing, which appeared a few hundred years later, seems fully formed complete with ideograms and determinatives. Perhaps the Egyptian myth of their being a gift from Thoth is not so!
The four main stages that Egyptologists identify
in the development of the Egyptian language are Old Egyptian, Middle Egyptian,
Late Egyptian and Coptic.
Old Egyptian was used from Dynasties 1-6. Middle
Egyptian was regarded as the classic period, when the written form was close to
From the 18th Dynasty, Late Egyptian was used which differed
substantially from the spoken form. The final incarnation, Coptic is useful in
that its vowel sounds are written and can be used to suggest how the previous
forms were articulated.
c. 3100 BC Pharaoh Narmer (Menes) unified Egypt with a capital at Memphis,
The Great Pyramid and Sphinx are built at Giza around 2500 BC.
In about 2000 BC Pharohic rule fails and Egypt has two rulers from Memphis and Thebes.
From about 1500 BC to 1300 the country is again under the rule of Pharohs from Thebes.
The Royal tombs are built there in the Valley of the Kings.
c. 1352 BC Akhenaten bans all gods except the sun god Aten and creates a new capital of that name.
With the rule of Tutankhamun the capital moves back to Memphis.
After about 1000 BC Egyptian civilisation declines, the Assyrians invade in 671 BC, the Persian empire occupation occurs from 525 BC and in 332 BC Alexander the Great brings it under Macedonian rule.
c. 30 BC Egypt becomes part of the Roman Empire and finally in 642 AD the Arab conquest leads Egypt to become a Muslim country.