Knowing Your ABC’s

Many people worked on deciphering hieroglyphs over a several hundred year period, however, the structure of the script was very difficult to work out.  In 1822, Jean-François Champollion deciphered hieroglyphs by studying the Rosetta Stone.  The Rosetta Stone is a stone that contains writing on it in two languages (Egyptian and Greek), and it uses three scripts (hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek).  The Rosetta Stone was carved in the year 196 BC.  The hieroglyphic script was used for important or religious documents.  The demotic script was the common writing of Egypt and Greek was the language of the rulers of Egypt at that time.  The Rosetta Stone used all three scripts so that the priests, government officials and rulers of Egypt could read what it said.  Drawing hundreds of pictures to convey something with hieroglyphics was inefficient, and that is why it died out.

Latin was once spoken by large sections of society over many different geographical areas, but today most people have forgotten how to speak Latin.  Over time Latin changed into a form where the original language was no longer comprehensible to those who were trying to learn or speak this language.  Languages die out as new dialects and languages from other areas take over.  In ancient Egypt, where really only a few people could ever read and or write in the first place, hieroglyphics became extinct.  If Latin wasn’t able to survive, then hieroglyphics didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.

Around 1600 BC, the Phoenician alphabet was invented from which almost every alphabet in the world has descended. Phoenicians needed an efficient method of keeping records, so they invented an alphabet and their customers eagerly adopted this invention and molded it according to their needs and tastes into the many new alphabets that we know today, such as Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Sanskrit.  This made it possible to exchange goods easy and accumulate and transmit different ideas and information upon which all civilizations are built.  Having an alphabet allowed the Phoenicians to become the first traveling salesmen, so they could sail around the Mediterranean and trade with other cultures.

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