hhieroglyphics - A system of writing using symbols or pictures (hieroglyphs) used by the ancient Egyptians. Or, one of the characters used in such writing.

(pr. high'ro-glif"icks)








Egypt, 203 BCE, Rosetta Stone, a slab of granite, 3 feet 9 inches x 2 feet 4 inches wide x 11 inches thick (118 x 77cm), the remains of a stele inscribed in three scripts: hieroglyphic, later Egyptian demotic -- a cursive form of ancient Egyptian, and ancient Greek. Each of these three scripts were being used in Egypt at the time it was carved. An officer of Napoleon's engineering corps found the stone half buried in the mud near Rosetta, a city near Alexandria, in 1799. Carved on the stone is a decree by Egyptian priests to commemorate the crowning of Ptolemy V Epiphanes, king of Egypt from 203 - 181 BCE The Stone is an icon of script and decipherment.


Léon Cogniet (French, ), Jean-François Champollion (1790 - 1832), 1831, oil on canvas, 0.73 x 0.60 m, Louvre. In 1826 Champollion deciphered the mystery of hieroglyphs from his study of the Rosetta Stone. In 1822 he had realized that the characters stood for sounds and began to translate the hieroglyphics on the stone. Only then were the secrets of the hieroglyphs revealed.



Also see cuneiform, font, glyph, icon, iconomatic, ideogram, lettering, logo, petroglyph, pictograph, text, and typography.







ArtLex Art Dictionary

Copyright © 1996-current year