It is thought that only about four out of every 1,000 Egyptians could read or write. Scribes were professional writers who would copy out official records and documents, letters, poems and stories. The training of young scribes was thorough, strict and harsh. One teacher, Amenemope, wrote to his students, "pass no day in idleness or you will be beaten". However, most workers envied the scribes for their easy way of life. The were well rewarded for their work.
Hieroglyphs were used for thousands of years, but from 1780 B.C. a script called hieratic was also popular. Yet another script, demotic, was used as well as hieroglyphs in latter days of ancient Egypt.
However, by 600 A.D., long after the last of the pharaohs, no one understood hieroglyphs. The secrets of ancient Egypt were lost for 1,200 years, until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone.
|Hieroplyphs were made up of small pictures.
|Hieriatic script took the picture symbols of
hieroglyphs and turned them into shapes
that were more like letters.
|Demotic script was introduced toward the end of the Late Kingdom.
|The Rosetta Stone had hieroglyphs text at the top, demotic tex in
the center, and Greek writing at the bottom.