A Hieroglyph (Greek for "sacred carving") is a character of any logographic or partly logographic writing system. Hieroglyphics (τὰ ἱερογλυφικά [γράμματα]) are writings of that system. In Neoplatonism, especially of the Renaissance, a hieroglyph was an artistic representation of an esoteric idea, which actual Egyptian hieroglyphs seemed to the Neoplatonists to be.
The oldest hieroglyphs are believed by many to have been made in Sumer in Mesopotamia; there the original cuneiform was proto-cuneiform and originally a pictographic form. In ancient Egypt the first uses of hieroglyphs is on the cosmetic palettes, pottery, and labels found in tombs, reliefs and burials. The hieroglyphs that were originally used for recording agricultural products and handicrafts led to the birth of linear and cuneiform script, widely used by the Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians; in ancient Egypt, a similar linear script formed from the hieroglyphs, called hieratic, but still equivalent to all the hieroglyph forms. Hieroglyphics can be read now because of the Rosetta Stone.
Five thousand years ago, ancient Egyptians had started to use other Hieroglyphs in a separate way. The features that are visually well arranged about heavenly bodies, natural phenomena, animals and plants, Gods, humans, residences and households were used for 3000 years for recording Egyptian. Ancient Greeks called this system Hieroglyphs, literally "sacred carvings", because it was mainly used by religious functionaries who doubled as government bureaucrats.
Hieroglyphs were represented in the form of symbols and pictures. They were mainly written on objects, reliefs, and soon after on papyrus paper. The term "hieroglyphics" came from the Egyptian definition: "Writing the Words of God".Recent excavations at Umm el-Qa'ab by a team led by Günter Dreyer has shown that hieroglyphics were used in Predynastic Egypt as early as 3400 BCE, shaking the predominant view that the oldest form of writing was cuneiform. Interpretations of this early script differ due to the small number of artifacts from this period with these markings. Many early hieroglyphs represent a rebus system, in which pictures are used according to the way they sound. To illustrate this sort of phonetic system, a phrase such as "I believe," might be rendered with an eye, a bee, and a leaf.
Hieroglyphs were documented by the Greek historian Hecataeus of Abdera while visiting Egypt around 300 BCE. The word hieroglyph comes from two Greek words: 'hieros' which means sacred or holy; and 'glyph' which translates as "carving". Hieroglyphs emerged from earlier neolithic proto-writing, and became commonly used for administrative purposes in the agrarian society of Sumer, (proto-cuneiform?). They soon become a complex language in ancient Egypt; in Mesopotamia, the proto-cuneiform also quickly developed into cuneiform by various peoples/languages. The first written language for the ancient Egyptians and other ancient civilizations, hieroglyphs consist of depictions of animals, symbols, ideas, etc. that stand for objects, sounds, eventually alphabetic letters, and actions.
There are three types of hieroglyphs: 1. ideogram – a picture used to symbolize an abstract idea. For example, a sun used to convey the idea of day, light, or time; (but also the God Ra) 2. phonogram – a picture whose name is close to the desired sound as in the above rebus example for "I believe", and 3. pictograph: a drawing of something that takes on its literal meaning such as the picture of a cat representing the word cat; the animals: mammals, birds, and reptiles are so represented in Egyptian hieroglyphs. Our alphabet today is to us what hieroglyphics were to the ancient Egyptians. It is important to note that not everyone was schooled to write these beautiful symbols that adorn the walls of many ancient Egyptian temples and pyramids. The reason for this is hieroglyphics became a very complex writing system in ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs in Egypt were much more detailed than their predecessors in Sumer. This is probably because the Egyptians valued art so much, as well as their civilization had an abundant supply of stone for building and writing surfaces. The people in charge of writing (or carving) these beautiful symbols were called scribes. Scribes were seen as having a very important task in ancient Egyptian society and were very high on the social hierarchy, ranking with the priests and other administrators.
List of hieroglyphic scripts 
See also 
- Illustrated Hieroglyphics Handbook
- List of languages by writing system
- Mother Goose in Hieroglyphics
- Mitchell, Larkin (March/April 1999), Earliest Egyptian Glyphs 52 (2), Archaeological Institute of America, retrieved 2010-12-26
- Isler, Martin (2001), Sticks, Stones and Shadows, University of Oklahoma Press, p. 56, ISBN 978-0806133423 Unknown parameter
- Houston, Stephen (2004), "The Earliest Egyptian Writing", The first writing: script invention as history and process, Cambridge University Press, p. 163, ISBN 978-0521838610, retrieved 2010-12-26
- according to James Peter Allen, see "Earliest Egyptian Glyphs" citation
Further reading 
- Allen, James P. (2001). Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521774833. OCLC 51226851.
- Brewer, Douglas J.; Teeter, Emily (2007). Egypt and the Egyptians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521851503. OCLC 433993212.
- Kamrin, Janice (2004). Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs: A Practical Guide. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 9780810949614. OCLC 55019226.
- Robinson, Andrew (2007). The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs & Pictograms. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 9780500286609. OCLC 172818065.
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