Saturday, August 26, 2023

Articles Published in the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology in 2022-2023

Articles Published in the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology in 2022-2023

Cover page of Hieratic



Hieratic is the name given to Egypt’s oldest cursive system of hieroglyphs, which was used primarily as handwriting and served as a multifunctional script for more than three millennia, until the third century BCE. As early as 1820, Champollion recognized the connection between hieroglyphics and hieratic. Hieratic was written in ink on papyrus and ostraca, as well as on wooden tablets, linen, stone surfaces, etc. The characters could also be carved or chiseled into clay, wood, rock surfaces, or stone objects. Unlike hieroglyphics, hieratic was always written from right to left, and the signs evolved from separate elements in single columns to horizontal lines of complete text, with increasing use of ligatures and abbreviations, especially in administrative contexts. In addition, most manuscripts reveal personal idiosyncrasies of the...

Cover page of Group writing

Group writing


Group Writing emerges during the New Kingdom, and it has often been assumed to includeinformation about the vocalization of the transcribed words and names. Scholars, however,have struggled to identify the exact rules governing it. As a result, as rich academic debate hasensued, and various interpretations have been suggested over the past century. GroupWriting, as a phenomenon, has also a socio-cultural and socio-historical dimension that has sofar attracted much less scholarly attention. The present article will explore both these sides ofthe question, first by providing a description of the system and an overview of the mainproposals put forward to interpret it, and then by delving into the question of its uses,function, and origins.

Cover page of The linguistic prehistory of Nubia

The linguistic prehistory of Nubia


Evidence from historical linguistics, philology, archaeology, and, more recently, genetics enables us to reconstruct part of the complex history of the area in southern Egypt and northern Sudan that has come to be known as Nubia. Whereas today Nubian languages and Arabic are dominant in these areas, interdisciplinary research points towards the presence of several other languages in the past, spoken by communities who interacted with each other to various extents over the past millennia, depending on such factors as climate change and technological development, but also on ever-changing sociopolitical constellations.

Cover page of Figurative Language

Figurative Language


Figurative Language is a traditional rhetorical style, which refers to a group of diverse tropes and uses of words describing pictorial or graphical objects in a non-literal way (Dancygier and Sweetser 2014; Colston 2015). Figurative language acts by contrast to other non-figurative language, just as a metaphorical word acts by contrast when used together with other non-metaphorical words (Ricoeur 2003: 161–162). Genette (1966: 205–221) reports that the contrast between figurative and non-figurative is that of a real language to a virtual one, and that the content depends totally on the speaker’s and listener’s own perceptions. In general, when necessary, all kinds of languages can be used in a figurative sense. Figurative expressions refer to the similarities of on object’s shape, colour, feature or function.

Cover page of Linear Hieroglyphs

Linear Hieroglyphs


Linear hieroglyphs formed a script comprising signs that maintained the iconic power of hieroglyphs but were more schematically written. Although they are attested from as early as the Old Kingdom, they became visually distinct from other writing types only from the Middle Kingdom onward. This script was restricted to specific functions and contexts, mainly related to the ritual and funerary domains. Linear hieroglyphs displayed specific traits and conventions in the forms of the signs (covering a wide spectrum of formality, iconicity, and embellishment) and the layout of the texts (with an arrangement that favored columns of rightward-facing signs that were to be read in a retrograde manner). They had the added values of prestige and expense and were often indexical of temple manuscripts. There is an urgent...

Cover page of Identity Marks

Identity Marks


Various types of non-textual notations were used in ancient Egypt in addition to, and in the absence of, writing. Systems of identity marks, such as ownership marks, masons’ marks, and pot marks, are important categories among these notations. Such marks express the identity of persons, groups, institutions, or places, and are usually attested as individual signs painted or scratched on artifacts or stone surfaces. Although different from writing, the graphic repertoires of marking systems often include characters of writing, in addition to pictorial and abstract signs. Clusters of marks, sometimes with added signs of a different nature, may even resemble written texts and share some of the latter’s characteristics.

Cover page of Letters to gods

Letters to gods


The “Letters to Gods” comprise an etic analytical category of Egyptian- and Greek-language texts in which individuals petitioned deities, seeking divine intervention in their lives to bring about certain outcomes. Attested from the Late to Roman Periods, from Saqqara to Esna, and inscribed upon papyri, linen, ostraca, wooden tablets, and ceramic vessels, these textual sources are the written testament to ritual practices through which individuals were able to interact directly with the divine to effect change in their lives. Petitioning about a variety of matters (from physical abuse to theft or embezzlement, from cursing people to healing them), the Letters to Gods reveal multiple aspects of the lives of their petitioners—not only their hopes and fears but also their conceptualization of justice and of the divine.

Cover page of Coptic



Coptic is the youngest written standard of the Egyptian language. Spelled with the characters of the Greek alphabet plus some extra signs, it was productively used for almost a thousand years, from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries CE, to record texts of a wide range of types and purposes, and is still being used in the liturgy of the Coptic church. Coptic texts have survived in enormous numbers and comprise literary, semi-literary, and documentary corpora in a range of dialects and genres. Analysis of salient grammatical features of the Coptic language elucidates both innovative and conservative features in comparison to those of its predecessor, Demotic.

Cover page of Egyptian Writing: Extended Practices

Egyptian Writing: Extended Practices


Among the idiosyncratic aspects of ancient Egyptian life and culture, Egyptian writing has long received particular attentionnot only in recent academic discourse, but already in Antiquity. Compared to other writing systems, hieroglyphs and, to a lesser extent, their cursive derivatives, hieratic and Demotic, demonstrate extraordinary potential to express different aspects of both meaning and sound when employed beyond their conventional use. In its particular iconicity Egyptian writing, especially hieroglyphic writing, works even outside the framework of language and shares common features with Egyptian art. In the textual record non-standard creative writings highlight the potency and multidimensionality of Egyptian writing through the interplay of meaning, sound, and icon. The contours of the phenomenon...

Cover page of UEE news for 2023

UEE news for 2023


Editors and Staff of the UEE wish you a happy, healthy and productive 2023. Here is the latest on ongoing developments.

Cover page of British Egyptology (1822-1882)

British Egyptology (1822-1882)


The growth of British Egyptology between 1822 and 1882 was a direct extension of informal colonial control. In the direct aftermath of the Anglo-French Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), British fieldwork in Egypt focused on diplomatic collecting for the British Museum and topographical surveys by Orientalist expatriates seeking to differentiate between ancient and modern Egyptian cultures. A second phase of fieldwork developed from mid-century whereby experts in Britain relied on colonial networks of collectors and informants in Egypt to communicate field observations over long distances. British Egyptology was not yet a distinct field, and like other nascent scientific specialisations, developed with porous disciplinary boundaries. It thus encapsulated a wide variety of approaches which included...

Cover page of Russian Egyptology (1914-1945)

Russian Egyptology (1914-1945)


The period from 1914 to 1945 in the history of Russia is marked with a number of major shocks: World War I, the revolution of 1917 and the following civil war, the establishment of a totalitarian ideological rule accompanied with terror, and the participation of the USSR in World War II (the Great Patriotic War). They all deeply affected the Russian (Soviet) scholarship including Egyptology. The tradition of the earlier, imperial period continued until the early 1920s in the research of Vladimir Golenischeff outside Russia and, briefly, in the work of Boris Turaev and his students. It so happened that this generation of Russian Egyptologists became actually extinct, and the Egyptological school had to be shaped anew in the time of post-revolutionary reconstruction. This process was influenced in the 1920s with what might be defined as...

Cover page of Dialects in Pre-Coptic Egyptian

Dialects in Pre-Coptic Egyptian


In scholarship there is no consensus on how to define a dialect, especially since the concept of “dialect” is a modern one, carrying with it political implications. Indeed it can be demonstrated that, historically, local idioms have sometimes gained national status for reasons relating to politics and culture. The existence of different dialects in pre-Coptic Egypt was discerned early in Egyptology, in the late nineteenth century, and is today accepted with only occasional skepticism. The identification and analysis of dialects is problematic for the Egyptologist for several reasons, among them the constraints of the hieroglyphic script, which was phonologically unspecific; the geographically unbalanced nature of the surviving corpus of texts; and the often elusive determination of textual provenance. Dialects have left written...

Cover page of Meroitic Writing

Meroitic Writing


Meroitic, the primary language of ancient Sudan, remained unwritten for at least two millennia. There were only rare transcriptions of proper names in Egyptian texts. With the rise of the 25th “Kushite” Dynasty, Egyptian script and language became the official means of written communication in Kush. A local form of Demotic was probably used in addition to the hieroglyphs, although archaeological evidence thereof is lacking. This local Demotic was very likely the ancestor of the Meroitic cursive script, which appeared in the third century BCE. A century later, a second script, called “hieroglyphic,” was created in order to replace Egyptian in monumental inscriptions. The signs were selected from the Egyptian hieroglyphs, but this new script was merely the prestigious counterpart of the Meroitic cursive characters, with a...

Cover page of Language Contact

Language Contact


Although language contact and multilingualism are universal phenomena, the topic has not been given due consideration in Egyptology. Language contact in ancient Egypt comprises a spectrum, in ascending order, of small-scale phenomena (loanwords, loan translations), through non-Egyptian texts in Egyptian script and the evidence for bilingualism and multilingualism, to the large-scale phenomena of new language forms resulting from language contact and phenomena of language convergence through a sprachbund situation.


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