Egyptian hieroglyphs are one of the most unique forms of writing that humans have invented. Pictorial in design, hieroglyphs first appeared around 3100 BC and marked the beginning of the Ancient Egyptian civilisation as we know it.
Even though the script is based on images, hieroglyphs are an extremely sophisticated form of early writing. They generally serve 3 functions. (1) to represent the image of a thing or action. (2) to stand for the sound of a syllable. (3) to clarify the precise meaning of adjoining glyphs.
Only individuals with certain artistic talent were able to write hieroglyphs to the desired standard. And only the upper echelons of society were privileged enough to be taught it. Priests, viziers and Pharaohs.
It wasn’t until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 that Egyptian hieroglyphs were finally deciphered and studied.
The Ancient Egyptians aren’t the only civilisation to have used hieroglyphs as their main writing system. The Aztecs, Mayans and Muisca all used a pictorial form of writing.