N-water ripple (n hieroglyph)

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in hieroglyphs
"three ripples"
in hieroglyphs

The Egyptian hieroglyph representing "water" (Gardiner N35, Unicode 𓈖 U+13216) is attested from the earliest phase of Egyptian writing. It is notably used in the serekh name of First Dynasty pharaoh Den (Dewen) (written Ḥr-dn 𓅃𓂧𓈖 and interpreted as "he who brings the water").

The hieroglyph is a zig-zagging line representing a ripple of water. Based on the acrophonic principle, based on the Egyptian word nt "water", it came to be used as the phonetic sign for /n/. One 'abbreviated' later form was a straight line with angles on each end.

The "three ripples" arrangement referring to "water" or "waters" became an important hieroglyphic block in its own right (encoded separately by Unicode at U+13217 (𓈖), notably used in the name of Nu, the god of the primeval waters. The "water" hieroglyph isn't used vertically; if a vertical shape representing the phoneme /n/ is desired, the Red Crown (Deshret) hieroglyph was used instead (Gardiner S3).

The "water" hieroglyph is the historical origin of the letter M.

Use as phonogram[edit]

A more archaic usage of the water ripple: label of Pharaoh Den, 1st Dynasty.

The n-hieroglyph when used as a phonogram represented a preposition translationg to "in, to", or "by", etc.

Roya Steward Memi lintel usage of water ripple 'n'.

Due to its use as a simple phonogram, the hieroglyph is used very frequently. For example, in the Rosetta Stone it occurs 203 times, averaging 6 times per line, for the 36 lines-(Nubayrah Stele, lines 1-22, Rosetta Stone, 1-14, therefore 36). In the stone as the water ripple, besides the preposition, it is used in names of Arsinoe, and one cartouche form of Ptolemy V Epiphanes, (the Rosetta Stone author). The vertical "N" of the Red Crown is used 35 times in the Nubayrah-Rosetta Stone, mostly prepositional; (only 4 times is it used as a non-preposition). (There are also other variants of the vertical N-Red Crown, with separate Gardiner nos. used in the Rosetta Stone, (as part of Pschent, or a variation on Egypt: "Taui", North and South Egypt, the Two Lands).)

Deshret, the vertical form of "N", is required as hieroglyphic blocks sometimes end in places not always conducive to ending a block. Two half blocks can be separated, above and below by the horizontal water ripple, or start a block, (on top), or introduce the next block, (by being on the bottom of the block). If room is not sufficient on the bottom, then a vertical form can follow to introduce the next block, thus the use of the vertical N, the red crown of the Pharaoh of the North, the Nile Delta.

See also[edit]



J. Kamil - Ancient Egyptians: Life in the Pyramid Age American Univ in Cairo Press, 1996 ISBN 9774243927