→ Old Nubian
U+13000–U+1342F (unified with
Egyptian hieroglyphs )
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS IPA PHONETIC SYMBOLS. Without proper
rendering support , you may see question marks, boxes, or other
symbols instead of
HIERATIC (English: /haɪərˈrætɪk/ ;
Ancient Greek :
ἱερατικά hieratika "priestly") is a cursive writing system
used in the provenance of the pharaohs in
Nubia . It
developed alongside cursive hieroglyphs , to which it is distinctly
related. It was primarily written in ink with a reed brush on papyrus
, allowing scribes to write quickly without resorting to the
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Development
* 3 Uses and materials
* 4 Characteristics
* 5 Influence
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 9 References
* 10 External links
In the 2nd century AD, the term hieratic was first used by Saint
Clement of Alexandria . It derives from the Greek phrase
γράμματα ἱερατικά (grammata hieratika; literally
"priestly writing"), as at that time, hieratic was used only for
religious texts, as had been the case for the previous eight and a
Hieratic can also be an adjective meaning "f or associated with
sacred persons or offices; sacerdotal ."
In the Proto-Dynastic Period of
Egypt , hieratic first appeared and
developed alongside the more formal hieroglyphic script . It is an
error to view hieratic as a derivative of hieroglyphic writing.
Indeed, the earliest texts from
Egypt are produced with ink and brush,
with no indication their signs are descendants of hieroglyphs. True
monumental hieroglyphs carved in stone did not appear until the 1st
Dynasty , well after hieratic had been established as a scribal
practice. The two writing systems, therefore, are related, parallel
developments, rather than a single linear one.
Hieratic was used throughout the pharaonic period and into the
Graeco-Roman Period . Around 660 BC, the Demotic script (and later
Greek) replaced hieratic in most secular writing, but hieratic
continued to be used by the priestly class for several more centuries,
at least into the 3rd century AD.
USES AND MATERIALS
One of four official letters to vizier Khay copied onto
fragments of limestone (an ostracon ).
Through most of its long history, hieratic was used for writing
administrative documents, accounts, legal texts, and letters, as well
as mathematical, medical, literary, and religious texts. During the
Græco-Roman period, when Demotic (and later Greek ) had become the
chief administrative script, hieratic was limited primarily to
religious texts. In general, hieratic was much more important than
hieroglyphs throughout Egypt's history, being the script used in daily
life. It was also the writing system first taught to students,
knowledge of hieroglyphs being limited to a small minority who were
given additional training. In fact, it is often possible to detect
errors in hieroglyphic texts that came about due to a misunderstanding
of an original hieratic text.
Most often, hieratic script was written in ink with a reed brush on
papyrus , wood , stone or pottery ostraca . Thousands of limestone
ostraca have been found at the site of
Deir al-Madinah , revealing an
intimate picture of the lives of common Egyptian workmen. Besides
papyrus, stone, ceramic shards, and wood, there are hieratic texts on
leather rolls, though few have survived. There are also hieratic texts
written on cloth, especially on linen used in mummification . There
are some hieratic texts inscribed on stone, a variety known as
lapidary hieratic; these are particularly common on stelae from the
22nd Dynasty .
During the late 6th Dynasty , hieratic was sometimes incised into mud
tablets with a stylus , similar to cuneiform . About five hundred of
these tablets have been discovered in the governor's palace at Ayn
Asil (Balat), and a single example was discovered from the site of
Ayn al-Gazzarin, both in the
Dakhla Oasis . At the time the tablets
were made, Dakhla was located far from centers of papyrus production.
These tablets record inventories, name lists, accounts, and
approximately fifty letters. Of the letters, many are internal letters
that were circulated within the palace and the local settlement, but
others were sent from other villages in the oasis to the governor.
Exercise tablet with hieratic excerpt from The Instructions of
Amenemhat . Dynasty XVIII , reign of
Amenhotep I , c. 1514–1493
BC. Text reads: "Be on your guard against all who are subordinate to
you ... Trust no brother, know no friend, make no intimates."
Hieratic script (unlike cursive hieroglyphs ) always reads from right
to left. Initially, hieratic could be written in either columns or
horizontal lines, but after the 12th Dynasty (specifically during the
Amenemhat III ), horizontal writing became the standard.
Hieratic is noted for its cursive nature and use of ligatures for a
number of characters.
Hieratic script also uses a much more
standardized orthography than hieroglyphs; texts written in the latter
often had to take into account extra-textual concerns, such as
decorative uses and religious concerns that were not present in, say,
a tax receipt. There are also some signs that are unique to hieratic,
though Egyptologists have invented equivalent hieroglyphic forms for
hieroglyphic transcriptions and typesetting. Several hieratic
characters have diacritical additions so that similar signs could
easily be distinguished. Particularly complicated signs could be
written with a single stroke.
Hieratic is often present in any given period in two forms, a highly
ligatured, cursive script used for administrative documents, and a
broad uncial bookhand used for literary, scientific, and religious
texts. These two forms can often be significantly different from one
another. Letters, in particular, used very cursive forms for quick
writing, often with large numbers of abbreviations for formulaic
phrases, similar to shorthand .
A highly cursive form of hieratic known as "Abnormal Hieratic" was
used in the Theban area from the second half of the 20th dynasty until
the beginning of the 26th Dynasty . It derives from the script of
Upper Egyptian administrative documents and was used primarily for
legal texts, land leases, letters, and other texts. This type of
writing was superseded by Demotic—a Lower Egyptian scribal
tradition—during the 26th Dynasty, when Demotic was established as a
standard administrative script throughout a re-unified Egypt.
THIS SECTION NEEDS EXPANSION. You can help by adding to it . (May
Hieratic has had influence on a number of other writing systems. The
most obvious is that on Demotic , its direct descendant. Related to
this are the Demotic signs of the
Meroitic script and the borrowed
Demotic characters used in the
Coptic alphabet and Old Nubian .
Outside of the Nile Valley, many of the signs used in the Byblos
syllabary were apparently borrowed from
Old Kingdom hieratic signs.
It is also known that early Hebrew used hieratic numerals .
Unicode standard considers hieratic characters' font variants of
Egyptian hieroglyphs , and the two scripts have been unified.
Hieroglyphs themselves were added to the
Unicode Standard in October
2009 with the release of version 5.2. To date, there is no known
Unicode font with hieratic.
* ^ A B Goedicke 1988:vii–viii.
* ^ McGregor, W. B., Linguistics: An Introduction (
Bloomsbury Academic , 2015), p. 306.
* ^ Goedicke 1988:vii; Wente 2001:2006. The reference is made in
Clement's Stromata 5:4.
* ^ Definition of hieratic, Free Online Dictionary. Retrieved
* ^ Baines 1983:583.
* ^ During the Roman period reed pens (calami) were also used.
* ^ Soukiassian, Wuttman, Pantalacci 2002.
* ^ Posener-Kriéger 1992; Pantalacci 1998.
* ^ Scribes and craftsmen: the noble art of writing on clay. Feb
29, 2012; UCL Institute of Archaeology
* ^ Parkinson and Quirke 1995:20.
* ^ Gardiner 1929.
* ^ Wente 2001:210. See also Malinine .
* ^ Hoch 1990.
* ^ Aharoni 1966; Goldwasser 1991.
* ^ The
Unicode Standard, Version 5.2.0, Chapter 14.17, Egyptian
* Aharoni, Yohanan (1966). "The Use of
Hieratic Numerals in Hebrew
Ostraca and the Shekel Weights". Bulletin of the American Schools of
Oriental Research. 184 (184): 13–19.
JSTOR 1356200 . doi
* Baines, John R. (1983). "Literacy and Ancient Egyptian Society".
Man: A Monthly Record of Anthropological Science. 18 (new series):
572–599. Archived from the original on 2006-10-09.
* Betrò, Maria Carmela (1996). Hieroglyphics: The Writings of
Ancient Egypt. New York; Milan: Abbeville Press (English); Arnoldo
Mondadori (Italian). pp. 34–239. ISBN 0-7892-0232-8 .
* Gardiner, Alan H. (1929). "The Transcription of New Kingdom
Journal of Egyptian Archaeology . 15 (1/2): 48–55. JSTOR
3854012 . doi :10.2307/3854012 .
* Goedicke, Hans (1988). Old
Hieratic Paleography. Baltimore: Halgo,
* Goldwasser, Orly (1991). "An Egyptian Scribe from Lachish and the
Hieratic Tradition of the Hebrew Kingdoms". Tel Aviv: Journal of the
Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology. 18: 248–253.
* Janssen, Jacobus Johannes (2000). "Idiosyncrasies in Late
Journal of Egyptian Archaeology . 86:
JSTOR 3822306 . doi :10.2307/3822306 .
* Malinine, Michel (1974). "Choix de textes juridiques en
hiératique ‘anormal’ et en démotique". Textes et langages de
l’Égypte pharaonique: Cent cinquante années de recherches
1822–1972; Hommage à Jean-François Champollion. Cairo: Imprimerie
de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale du Caire. pp.
31–35. Vol. 1.
* Hoch, James E. (1990). "The Byblos Syllabary: Bridging the Gap
Between Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Semitic Alphabets". Journal of the
Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities. 20: 115–124.
* Möller, Georg Christian Julius (1927–1936). Hieratische
Paläographie: Die aegyptische Buchschrift in ihrer Entwicklung von
der Fünften Dynastie bis zur römischen Kaiserzeit (2nd ed.).
Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’schen Buchhandlungen. 4 vols.
* Möller, Georg Christian Julius (ed.) (1927–1935). Hieratische
Lesestücke für den akademischen Gebrauch. (2nd ed.). Leipzig: J. C.
Hinrichs’schen Buchhandlungen. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list
(link ) 3 vols.
* Pantalacci, Laure (1998). "La documentation épistolaire du palais
des gouverneurs à Balat–ˤAyn Asīl". Bulletin de l'Institut
français d'archéologie orientale. 98: 303–315.
* Parkinson, Richard B.; Stephen G. J. Quirke (1995). Papyrus.
London: British Museum Press.
* Posener-Kriéger, Paule (1992). "Les tablettes en terre crue de
Balat". In Élisabeth Lalou (ed.). Les Tablettes à écrire de
l'Antiquité à l'époque moderne. Turnhout: Brepols. pp. 41–49. CS1
maint: Extra text: editors list (link )
* Soukiassian, Georges; Michel Wuttmann; Laure Pantalacci (2002). Le
palais des gouverneurs de l’époque de Pépy II: Les sanctuaires de
ka et leurs dépendances. Cairo: Imprimerie de l’Institut français
d’archéologie orientale du Caire. ISBN 2-7247-0313-8 .
* Verhoeven, Ursula (2001). Untersuchungen zur späthieratischen
Buchschrift. Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters and Departement