Evidence suggests that the cost of wrapping and decorating a mummy was an expensive enterprise, and considering the wide range of people involved and the materials required, one would expect transactions concerning such costly items to have generated some paperwork. However, textual evidence for the production of mummies, burial assemblages, or tombs in Roman Egypt is almost non-existent, so much so that funerary art could almost be defined as art without artists, created by invisible hands. This article collects the available evidence and attempts to understand better the working life of the funerary artists and craftsmen of Roman Egypt.
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.