demotic egyptian

Article

July 1, 2022

The term demotic refers to both the Egyptian script and language that emerged in the last stage of Ancient Egypt. To write it, the demotic ideographic script was used. It derives from the hieratic used in the Nile delta. The term was first used by the Greek historian Herodotus, to distinguish it from hieratic and hieroglyphic writing. After its introduction, hieratic continued to be used for religious purposes, while demotic was used for economic and literary purposes. In contrast to hieratic, which was usually written on papyri or ostraca, demotic was sometimes engraved on stone and wood. It began to be used around 660 BC. C. and became the dominant script of Ancient Egypt around 600 BC. C. At the beginning of the fourth century it was replaced by the Greek language in the official texts; its last known use was in the year 452 of our Era, engraved on the walls of the temple dedicated to Isis, in Philé. By convention, the word "demotic" is usually capitalized to distinguish it from Greek demotic.[citation needed].

Hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic scripts

Three basic types of writing developed in ancient Egypt: Egyptian hieroglyphic ideographic writing was used from c. 3200 BC C. in eponymous tablets, ritual objects and monuments. It was the oldest and most complex. Hieroglyph comes from the Greek ta hieroglyphica (ιερος sacred, γλυφειν to record) and means sacred engravings. Egyptian hieratic ideographic writing arose as an abbreviated form of hieroglyphics. It comes from the Greek hieratika, which means priestly. Demotic ideographic script is an abbreviated form of hieratic script. The term demotic comes from the Greek demotika, popular, referring to everyday affairs.

Old Demotic

Old Demotic was conceived in lower Egypt during the last period of the 25th dynasty, appearing on the stelae of the Serapeum of Saqqara. It is generally dated between 650 and 400 BC. C., although most of the texts written in Old Demotic date from the XXVI dynasty and the period of Persian domination, the XXVII dynasty. After the reunification of Egypt under Psammetichus I, demotic replaced hieratic in Upper Egypt, particularly during the reign of Amasis, when it became the official administrative and legal script. During this period, demotic was used only in administrative, legal, and commercial texts, while hieroglyphics and hieratic were reserved for ceremonial texts.

Middle Demotic (Ptolemaic)

Middle Demotic (c. 400 to 30 BC) is the stage of writing used during the Ptolemaic period. From the fourth century BC. C., the use of demotic grows, as can be seen by the increased use in literary and religious texts. Towards the end of III century a. C., the Greek language was already more important, since it was the administrative language of the country. Demotic contracts lost most of their legal force unless there was a Greek notation placed by the authorities.

Late Demotic (Roman)

At the beginning of the Roman period in Egypt, Demotic was used less and less in public life to the benefit of Hellenistic Greek. There are, however, several literary texts written in late Demotic (from about 30 BC to 452), especially in the 1st and 2nd centuries, although the number of Demotic texts decreased rapidly towards the end of the 2nd century. Later, demotic was only used in some ostraca, annotations to Greek texts, labels on mummies and graffiti. The last demotic inscription is dated December 11, 452 and consists of a graffiti made on the walls of the temple of Isis, in File, Egypt.

The demotic language

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