The story

Gods and Writing of Egypt


The Egyptians worshiped numerous gods, with varied functions and aspects. There were gods worshiped throughout Egypt and others worshiped only in certain places. Among the first were the gods linked to death and burial, such as Osiris.

The cult of Isis and Osiris was the most popular in ancient Egypt. Osiris and his sister-wife Isis were believed to have populated Egypt and taught the peasants the techniques of agriculture. Legend has it that the god Set fell in love with Isis and so murdered Osiris. He rose from the dead and went beyond, becoming the god of the dead.

The ancient Egyptians believed that the tears of Isis, who mourned the death of her husband, were responsible for the periodic floods of the Nile. Also worshiped was the god Horus, son of Isis and Osiris.


The Egyptians have developed important knowledge in various fields: arithmetic, astronomy, chemistry and health.

Egyptian medicine had great advances, such as the creation of medical treatments, delicate surgical interventions and treatment of diseases, as well as the mummification of corpses.

In order to solve practical problems they developed techniques such as flood control, building hydraulic systems, preparing the land for sowing according to the cycle of the seasons.

The artistic manifestations had evident religious connotations always focused on the glorification of the gods and the life of some pharaohs. In architecture and engineering the construction of pyramids and temples represented a major advance in such areas.


Egyptian writing was done with pictorial signs or characters representing images of birds, insects, objects, etc., known as hieroglyphics.

According to most historians, the Egyptians began using hieroglyphics around 3200 BC. This is certainly one of the oldest writings in the world.

In this writing, each sign represented an object: there were parts of the human body, plants, animals, buildings, boats, work tools, professions, weapons. Over time, these drawings have been replaced by simplified figures or graphic symbols..

To represent feelings, such as hate or love, or actions such as loving and suffering, the Egyptians drew objects whose words that designated them had sounds similar to the words the hieroglyphs referred to something concrete, there was a vertical sign next to each figure. If they were referring to something abstract, there was the design of a papyrus scroll. If it corresponded to a particular person, hieroglyphics always bore the image of a female or male figure, they showed a small sun. In addition, hieroglyphics could be written from right to left or vice versa in the right order, in each case depending on the direction of the eyes of the human figures or the birds represented.

From hieroglyphics, the Egyptians developed other systems. We will now see, in summary, how these systems were employed:

  • Hieroglyphic: considered sacred, was used by priests;
  • Hieratic: it was simpler, used by scribes on papyrus;
  • Demotic: The most simplified was of popular use.

To write was used papyrus, a kind of paper made from the stalk of a plant of the same name, accompanied by brushes, palettes, ink cartridges and a pestle. When they went to write they would crush the pigments in the pestle and then transfer the ink to the ink cartridge, which had two cavities: one for red ink and one for black ink. The brushes were moistened with water in a leather bag. Some palettes had spiritual character for the scribes, being kept in their graves.

The hieroglyphic writing was deciphered by the Frenchman Jean-François Champollion, who, after years of study, completed his work in 1822 by deciphering the Rosetta Stone, a piece of black basalt engraved with a Greek, hieroglyphic and demotic text.

Who performed this record work were the scribes. The scribes were high officials in Pharaoh's service. They had a duty to write down what happened in the fields, to count the grain, to record the Nile floods, to calculate the taxes that the peasants should pay, to write contracts, court minutes, letters, and to record the other products that entered the warehouse.

In addition to writing, scribes had to know the laws, know how to calculate taxes and have notions of arithmetic. The scribes had their own pictogram, represented by the palette. It reads sech (write), and is part of the words related to files, taxes and tributes.