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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Egyptian writing system represents one of the oldest recorded languages known to humankind, along with Sumerian. But the system took centuries to adapt to what we now regard as its primary function: the encoding of continuous speech. Major changes in the historical and social-linguistic environment of late Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt (ca. 3250–2700 BC) left traces in the written communication and steered significant developments in the early writing system. After a brief introduction of the earliest evidence of writing in Egypt, this chapter will focus on the long and complex process of creating, extending, and standardizing the early hieroglyphic sign corpus. It will propose possible explanations for the dramatic decrease in the number of signs in the beginning of the third millennium BC.

Keywords: Egypt, early writing, origin, script, language, hieroglyph, sign

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