Hieroglyphics is the ancient text that was used to write in Ancient Egypt.  This text was discovered to be written as early as 3000 B.C.  Hieroglyphics means “Sacred text.”

What Are Hieroglyphics?

Hieroglyphics are pictures that are used to make words or letters.  There are over 1000 different symbols that are used.  Some of the symbols are used to make sounds while some are used to make different letters of the alphabet.  There are even pictures that stand for whole words.

Why Was Hieroglyphics Important?

People in Ancient Egypt needed to be able to communicate and to write about things and to keep things documented and since they did not have the normal alphabet that we use, they had to have some way to do this and that is why hieroglyphics was so important.

Who Used Hieroglyphics?

Hieroglyphics was very hard to learn and so it took a lot of education to be able to learn and it took them a lot of time to practice learning how to write each of the letters out.   Not only did they have to learn the sounds, they also had to learn to write the shapes.

Some people would start at a very young age, even as young as five or six to learn how to write these ancient texts.

Some of the people that would learn to write in hieroglyphics were the scribes and priests.  Scribes were very important and treated very well in Ancient Egypt.  Not only were they thought of as being very smart and important, the city did not make them pay taxes or make them go to the army.

Children of people that were rich were the only ones that were allowed to become scribes or to train to be a scribe.

Priests learned to write in hieroglyphics because they needed to be able to write about the religion and to document things for the church.  Even though they were leaders of the church and were very busy, they were forced to learn how to write this ancient writing and to teach it to others in the priesthood.

What Did Hieroglyphics Look Like?

Hieroglyphics was written in different directions.  We right left to right but with hieroglyphics, it could be written right to left or left to right.  We wright up and down but with hieroglyphics, it could be written up and down or down and up.

There were no exclamation marks, periods, commas or any other type of punctuation when writing hieroglyphics.  Instead, they would try to make the writing to look like artwork.  Sometimes, it would look so amazing that the people would want to copy it and hang it around as artwork.

Instead of writing single letters, some pictures were written to be a whole word.  When a picture means a whole word, it is an ideogram.  Some of the symbols made a sound.  When a symbol makes a sound, this is called a phonogram.

An Egyptian might draw a picture of an eye and it could mean an eye like an eyeball or it could stand for the letter “I.”  This is one example as to why writing hieroglyphics was very difficult to learn.

What Did the Ancient Egyptians Write On?

Since we know that paper is a popular thing to write on, it is important to understand what the Egyptians wrote on.  They also had paper, but it was different than the paper that we have today.  The Egyptians had paper made from a papyrus plant.

The stem of the plant would be used to make the paper and they would make two layers, one going up and down and one going left and right.  It would then be covered in cloth and it would be put between two heavy items such as rocks or stones and the strips would stick together and become flat.

After the papyrus paper was made, they would write on it like we write on paper today.  Papyrus paper was a very important invention for the Ancient Egyptians, and they would not tell other cultures how to make it so that they could always trade it for other goods.


The Ancient Egyptians would also write on stones so that the writing could be saved forever.  One of the most important documents that was found was the Rosetta Stone.  This stone had hieroglyphics written on it and historians were able to translate what the stone said.

Since the Rosetta Stone was found, it allowed people to be able to understand hieroglyphics and the different symbols that they used.  It is a very important piece of history.  It was discovered by a French soldier in 1799 in the city of Rosetta and that is why it is called the Rosetta Stone.

More Facts About Hieroglyphics:

  • Some hieroglyphics was written shorter because it could allow the scribes to write what they wanted to write faster. This was a form of hieroglyphics that was called hieratic.  Today, we call that type of writing shorthand writing.
  • Greeks were made to learn hieroglyphics when they conquered Egypt.
  • Many of the Ancient Egyptians could not read and write and most of the hieroglyphic learning was done by people that were rich.
  • Imhotep was a very famous scribe from Ancient Egypt. He helped to design the very first pyramid and he was later made a god.  He was famous because he was the priest of the sun god before he became a god himself.

What Did You Learn?

  1. What are hieroglyphics?  Hieroglyphics is a text that the Ancient Egyptians learned to write and read.
  2. What
  3. did hieroglyphics look like?  Hieroglyphics could be letters, sounds or single pictures.
  4. What does hieroglyphics mean? Hieroglyphics means “Sacred text.”
  5. Who learned to write hieroglyphics? Most of the people that learned to write hieroglyphics were rich people.  Some were scribes and priests.