The earliest known examples of writing in Egypt have been dated to 3,400 BC. The latest dated inscription in hieroglyphs was made on the gate post of a temple at Philae in 396 AD. But what are their origins?
The ancient Egyptians believed that writing was invented by the god Thoth and called their hieroglyphic script "mdju netjer" ("words of the gods"). The hieroglyphic script was used mainly for formal inscriptions on the walls of temples and tombs. In some inscriptions, the glyphs are very detailed and in full colour, in others, they are simple outlines. For everyday writing, the hieratic script was used.
After the Emperor Theodsius I ordered the closure of all pagan temples throughout the Roman empire in the late 4th century AD, knowledge of the hieroglyphic script was lost.
It wasn’t until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 when hieroglyphs were first to read with some clarity. It took years to decipher them.