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The 1,500-year race to decode hieroglyphs


Eldorado
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For more than 3,000 years, the distinctive culture of ancient Egypt was defined by an equally distinctive writing system – hieroglyphs. Yet, for a means of communication that lasted so long, its demise was swift and complete. Even before the last-known hieroglyphic inscription was carved, in August AD 394, detailed understanding of ancient Egypt’s distinctive script had all but died out in the Nile Valley. Within a generation or two, nobody remained who could read, let alone write, in hieroglyphics.

Beyond Egypt’s borders, knowledge swiftly gave way to speculation, and all sorts of fanciful theories began to spring up about the meaning of the signs. As early as the 1st century BC, when hieroglyphics were still in use, the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus had declared that Egyptian writing was “not built up from syllables to express the underlying meaning, but from the appearance of things drawn and by their metaphorical meaning learned by heart”. Thus began the erroneous belief that hieroglyphs were a symbolic rather than a phonetic script – a fundamental misconception that would lead generations of scholars astray.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/other/mystic-secrets-or-mythological-rubbish-the-1-500-year-race-to-decode-hieroglyphs/ar-AA12c5zE?

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