The Ancestor Of All Forms Of Literature: The Egyptian Literature

The oldest known literature perhaps is the Ancient Egyptian literature. The Egyptian Civilization existed for a span of time,  that exceeds all records of history that we possess today. The Egyptians Civilization was a civilization with utmost sophistication with proper techniques and methods for tackling the everyday chores. They had ways and methods to develop and preserve proper writing and are known to be one of the founders of the concept of books and writing. Just imagine, had the ancient Egyptians not developed paper and writing, there would be no books today!


Writing in Ancient Egypt—both hieroglyphic and hieratic—first appeared in the late 4th millennium BC during the late phase of predynastic Egypt. By 26th century BC to 22nd century BC, there had been development of texts, letters, hymns as well as biographical accounts of great Pharaohs. However, it was only after 21st century BC that a narrative Egyptian language was created. The language initially was a rare commodity and taught only to the high ranking officials and the elite but later on, it spread.

The Ancient Egyptians were very particular when it came to literature and education. There were schools but they were attended only by the elite. Also, only boys were educated in schools and could qualify as scribes. While boys were taught Mathematics, Music, Geometry, Writing, etc, girls and other ordinary people were educated at home only. Since girls were excluded from bureaucracy during that time, there was no way they could qualify as scribes. They were educated by their mothers about housekeeping, washing, cooking, etc. These were the expectations from a woman in Ancient Egypt.


Ancient Egyptian literature has been preserved on a wide variety of media. This includes papyrus scrolls and packets, limestone or ceramic ostraca, wooden writing boards, monumental stone edifices and coffins. Texts preserved and unearthed by modern archaeologists represent a small fraction of ancient Egyptian literary material. The area of the floodplain of the Nile is under-represented because the moist environment is unsuitable for the preservation of papyri and ink inscriptions. On the other hand, hidden caches of literature, buried for thousands of years, have been discovered in settlements on the dry desert margins of Egyptian civilization.


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