Middle Egyptian language

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Middle Egyptian
Region Ancient Egypt
Era ca. 2000 to 1350 BC, when it evolved into Late Egyptian
Early forms
Archaic Egyptian[1]
  • Middle Egyptian
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None

Middle Egyptian is the typical form of Egyptian written from 2000 BC to 1300 BC (after Old Egyptian and before Late Egyptian). In writing, it makes use of around 900 hieroglyphs.

Although evolving into Late Egyptian from the 14th century BC, Middle Egyptian remained in use as literary standard language until the 4th century AD. As such, it is the classical variant of Egyptian that historically attracted most attention from Egyptology. Whilst most Middle Egyptian is seen written on monuments by Hieroglyphs, it is also written using a cursive variant, and the related Hieratic. As it is usually the first and most used form of the Ancient Egyptian language, it is frequently (incorrectly) referred to simply as "Hieroglyphics".

Progress in the understanding of Middle Egyptian is due to Adolf Erman and his "Berlin school". Erman also published the first Middle Egyptian grammar in 1894, surpassed in 1927 by Alan H. Gardiner's monumental work. From the mid 20th century, Egyptologists considered their understanding of Middle Egyptian to be essentially complete, and began focussing on Old Egyptian, but debate on Middle Egyptian grammar was revived by Hans Jakob Polotsky and his "standard theory" from 1944.


  1. ^ Middle Egyptian does not derive from Old Egyptian, which was based on a different dialect.


  • James P. Allen: Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000.
  • A. H. Gardiner: Egyptian Grammar, Oxford, 1927, 3rd ed. 1957.