Demotic (Egyptian)
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Demotic (from grc, δημοτικός ''dēmotikós'', 'popular') is the
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a of , concentrated along the lower reaches of the , situated in the place that is now the country . Ancient Egyptian civilization followed and coalesced around 3100 (according to ) with the political unification of u ...

ancient Egypt
ian script derived from northern forms of
hieratic Hieratic (; grc, ἱερατικά, hieratiká, priestly) is the name given to a cursive Cursive (also known as script, among other names) is any style of penmanship in which some characters are written joined together in a flowing manner, g ...
used in the
Nile Delta The Nile Delta ( ar, دلتا النيل, or simply , ) is the delta Delta commonly refers to: * Delta (letter) (Δ or δ), a letter of the Greek alphabet * River delta, a landform at the mouth of a river * D (NATO phonetic alphabet: "Delta"), ...
, and the stage of the
Egyptian language The Egyptian language or Ancient Egyptian ( egy, 𓂋𓏺𓈖 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖, , cop, ϯⲙⲉⲧⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ) is an which was spoken in . Its attestation stretches over an extraordinarily long time, from the stage (mid-4th m ...
written in this script, following
Late Egyptian Late Egyptian is the stage of the Egyptian language The Egyptian language or Ancient Egyptian ( egy, 𓂋𓏺𓈖 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖, , cop, ϯⲙⲉⲧⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ) is an Afroasiatic languages, Afro-Asiatic language which was spo ...
and preceding
Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century * Coptic alphabet, th ...
. The term was first used by the Greek historian
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Da ...
to distinguish it from hieratic and
hieroglyphic Egyptian hieroglyphs () were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used for writing the Egyptian language. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabary, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters.The ...
scripts. By convention, the word "Demotic" is capitalized in order to distinguish it from
demotic Greek Demotic Greek or Dimotiki ( el, Δημοτική Γλώσσα, , , lit. "language of the people") was a colloquial vernacular form of Modern Greek, in common use from the founding of the Greek state in 1821 until the resolution of the Greek langu ...
.


Script

The Demotic script was referred to by the Egyptians as ', "document writing," which the second-century scholar
Clement of Alexandria Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria ( grc, Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς; – ), was a and philosopher who taught at the . Among his pupils were and . A convert to Christianity, he was an educated man who was ...
called , "letter-writing," while early Western scholars, notably
Thomas Young
Thomas Young
, formerly referred to it as "
Enchorial Demotic (from grc, δημοτικός ''dēmotikós'', 'popular') is the ancient Egyptian script derived from northern forms of hieratic used in the Nile Delta, and the stage of the Egyptian language written in this script, following Late Egyptia ...
Egyptian." The script was used for more than a thousand years, and during that time a number of developmental stages occurred. It is written and read from right to left, while earlier hieroglyphs could be written from top to bottom, left to right, or right to left. Parts of the Demotic
Greek Magical Papyri#REDIRECT Greek Magical Papyri The Greek Magical Papyri (Latin ''Papyri Graecae Magicae'', abbreviated ''PGM'') is the name given by scholars to a body of papyri from Graeco-Roman Egypt, written mostly in ancient Greek Ancient Greek include ...
were written with a
cypher script
cypher script
.


Early Demotic

Early Demotic (often referred to by the
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
term ') developed in
Lower Egypt , the Red Crown of Lower Egypt Image:Lower Egypt Nomes 01.png, 350px, Map of Lower Egypt with its historical nomes Lower Egypt ( ar, مصر السفلى '; ''Tsakhet'') is the northernmost region In geography, regions are areas that are ...
during the later part of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, particularly found on
stele A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek , ''stēlē''. The Greek plural is written , ''stēlai'', but this is only rarely encountered in English. or occasionally stela (plural ''stelas'' or ''stelæ''), ...

stele
s from the
Serapeum A serapeum is a temple or other religious institution dedicated to the syncretism, syncretic Greeks in Egypt, Greco-Egyptian ancient Egyptian deities, deity Serapis, who combined aspects of Osiris and Apis (deity), Apis in a humanized form that was ...
at
Saqqara Saqqara ( ar, سقارة, ), also spelled Sakkara or Saccara in English , is an Egyptian village in Giza Governorate Giza Governorate ( ar, محافظة الجيزة ') is one of the governorates of Egypt For administrative purposes, Egypt ...

Saqqara
. It is generally dated between 650 and 400 BC, as most texts written in Early Demotic are dated to the Twenty-sixth Dynasty and the subsequent rule as a
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
y of the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, , translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient based in founded by . Ranging at its greatest extent from the and proper in the west to the in the east, it ...

Achaemenid Empire
, which was known as the
Twenty-seventh Dynasty The Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XXVII, alternatively 27th Dynasty or Dynasty 27), also known as the First Egyptian Satrapy (), was effectively a province (satrapy) of the Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid Persian Empire between 5 ...
. After the reunification of Egypt under
Psamtik I Wahibre Psamtik I (Ancient Egyptian: ''wꜣḥ-jb-rꜥ psmṯk'', known by the Greeks as Psammeticus or Psammetichus ( Latinization of grc, Ψαμμήτιχος, translit=Psammḗtikhos), who ruled 664–610 BC, was the first of three king ...
, Demotic replaced Abnormal Hieratic in
Upper Egypt Upper Egypt ( ar, صعيد مصر ', shortened to , , locally: ; ) is the southern portion of Egypt and is composed of the lands on both sides of the Nile that extend wikt:downriver, downriver between Nubia and Lower Egypt in the north. In ancien ...
, particularly during the reign of
Amasis II Amasis II ( grc, Ἄμασις) or Ahmose II was a pharaoh Pharaoh (, ; cop, ''Pǝrro'') is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p ...
, when it became the official administrative and legal script. During this period, Demotic was used only for administrative, legal, and commercial texts, while hieroglyphs and hieratic were reserved for religious texts and literature.


Middle (Ptolemaic) Demotic

Middle Demotic (c. 400–30 BC) is the stage of writing used during the
Ptolemaic Kingdom The Ptolemaic Kingdom (; grc-koi, Πτολεμαϊκὴ βασιλεία, Ptolemaïkḕ basileía) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient w ...
. From the 4th century BC onwards, Demotic held a higher status, as may be seen from its increasing use for literary and religious texts. By the end of the 3rd century BC,
Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek language, Greek spoken and written d ...
was more important, as it was the administrative language of the country; Demotic contracts lost most of their legal force unless there was a note in Greek of being registered with the authorities.


Late (Roman) Demotic

From the beginning of Roman rule of Egypt, Demotic was progressively less used in public life. There are, however, a number of literary texts written in Late Demotic (c. 30 BC – 452 AD), especially from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, though the quantity of all Demotic texts decreased rapidly towards the end of the second century. In contrast to the way Latin eliminated languages in the western part of the Empire, Greek did not replace Demotic entirely. After that, Demotic was only used for a few
ostraca , an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens ...
, subscriptions to Greek texts, mummy labels, and graffiti. The last dated example of the Demotic script is a graffito on the walls of the temple of
Isis Isis (; ''Ēse''; ''Isis''; Meroitic language, Meroitic: ''Wos'' 'a''or ''Wusa'') was a major ancient Egyptian deities, goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. Isis was first mentioned i ...

Isis
at
Philae ; ar, فيلة; cop, ⲡⲓⲗⲁⲕ , alternate_name = , image = The-Temple-of-Philae-on-Agilika-Island.jpg , alt = , caption = The temple of Isis Isis (; ''Ēse''; ''Isis''; Meroitic language, Meroitic: ''Wos'' ' ...

Philae
, dated to December 12, 452. The text simply reads "Petise, son of Petosiris"; who Petise was is unknown.


Uniliteral signs and transliteration

Like its hieroglyphic predecessor script, Demotic possessed a set of "uniliteral" or "alphabetical" signs that could be used to represent individual
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
s. These are the most common signs in Demotic, making up between one third and one half of all signs in any given text; foreign words are also almost exclusively written with these signs.Clarysse, Willy (1994) ''Demotic for Papyrologists: A First Acquaintance'', pages 96–98. Later (Roman Period) texts used these signs even more frequently. The table below gives a list of such uniliteral signs along with their conventional transcription, their hieroglyphic origin, the Coptic letters derived from them, and notes on usage.The Demotic Palaeographical Database Project
accessed 11 November 2020.


Language

Demotic is a development of the
Late Egyptian language Late Egyptian is the stage of the Egyptian language The Egyptian language (Egyptian: ''r n km.t'', , Coptic language, Coptic: ) is an Afroasiatic languages, Afro-Asiatic language which was spoken in ancient Egypt. Its attestation stretches ove ...
and shares much with the later
Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century * Coptic alphabet, th ...
phase of the Egyptian language. In the earlier stages of Demotic, such as those texts written in the Early Demotic script, it probably represented the spoken idiom of the time. But, as it was increasingly used for only literary and religious purposes, the written language diverged more and more from the spoken form, leading to significant
diglossia In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
between the Late Demotic texts and the spoken language of the time, similar to the use of classical Middle Egyptian during the Ptolemaic Period.


Decipherment

The
Rosetta Stone The Rosetta Stone is a granodiorite stele inscribed with three versions of a Rosetta Stone decree, decree issued in Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty on behalf of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes. The top and middle texts are in Eg ...

Rosetta Stone
was discovered in 1799. It is inscribed with three scripts:
Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian hieroglyphs () were the formal writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning a ...
, Demotic, and the
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in history to have distinct letters for vowels ...

Greek alphabet
. There are 32 lines of Demotic, which is the middle of the three scripts on the stone. The Demotic was deciphered before the hieroglyphs, starting with the efforts of Antoine Isaac Silvestre de Sacy. Scholars were eventually able to translate the hieroglyphs by comparing them with the Greek words, which could be readily translated, and fortifying that process by applying knowledge of Coptic (the Coptic language being descended from earlier forms of Egyptian represented in hieroglyphic writing).
Egyptologists This is a partial list of Egyptologists. An Egyptologist is any archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-c ...
,
linguists Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonet ...

linguists
and
papyrologist Papyrology is the study of ancient literature, correspondence, legal archives, etc., as preserved in manuscripts written on papyrus, the most common form of writing material in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Ancient Rome, Rome. Pap ...
s who specialize in the study of the Demotic stage of Egyptian script are known as ''Demotists''.


See also

*
Transliteration of Ancient EgyptianIn the field of Egyptology, transliteration of Ancient Egyptian is the process of converting (or mapping) texts written in the Egyptian language to alphabetic symbols representing uniliteral Egyptian hieroglyphs, hieroglyphs or their hieratic and Dem ...


Notes


References

* * *


External links


Demotic and Abnormal Hieratic TextsList of all Demotic texts in TrismegistosChicago Demotic DictionaryThe American Society of Papyrologists
* ttp://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/DEPT/RA/ABZU/DEMOTIC_WWW.HTML Demotic Texts on the Internetbr>''Thus Wrote 'Onchsheshonqy: An Introductory Grammar of Demotic'' by Janet H. JohnsonDemotische Grammatik
by
Wilhelm Spiegelberg Wilhelm Spiegelberg (25 June 1870, Hannover – 23 December 1930, Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is th ...

''Hieratic/Demotic Fonts''
{{Authority control Ancient Egyptian language Egyptian languages, Demotic Extinct languages of Africa, Demotic Writing systems of Africa Obsolete writing systems Languages attested from the 7th century BC Languages extinct in the 5th century