Egyptian hieroglyphs were the Egyptian language thousands of years ago, from 3200 BC to AD 400. There are about 1000 distinct characters, which is nuts considering our alphabet has 26.
So they didn't use vowels or punctuation, but given that their language consisted of figures and symbols that were placed far apart from each other, perhaps the worries of run-on sentences wasn't an issue. Also, most Egyptians didn't know how to read or write - those were things scribes and priests did.
Now what must've been really confusing is that you could read hieroglyphs up and down and left to right AND right to left. You would have to look at the way the symbol was facing to determine the correct direction for reading. Okay, that seems manageable, right?
It was actually the Rosetta Stone (now you know where it came from!) that helped us decipher what the hieroglyphs meant. The stone, founded in 1799, was carved with the same text...
... in different languages: Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic and Greek.
The Rosetta Stone
An outer coffin lid
Hieroglyphs in ancient ruins
Syllables for symbols
Hundreds of symbols to decipher
“The Rosetta Stone helped decipher hieroglyphs.”
Meanings of symbols
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This PASHpost story has been shared with John Smith.