Monday, November 26, 2012

Relationship of hieroglyphs and art

Hieroglyphs are above all known as being a sacred writing.

The entities or the objects which are represented by hieroglyphs, to the pictorial sense of the term, establish a connection with the art.

When we examine them, we realize very quickly the artistic appeal which they loosen.

This appeal can be likened to an art stylized according to differents periods of history of Ancient Egypt.

The Ancient Egyptians wished very quickly "organize" these styles - we can almost look of "convention" artistic1. 

To study this "convention" can be really interesting : by studying certain aspects, certain details of this one, we can arrest artistic "trends".

How for example to differentiate a mastaba of the Old Kingdom of another mastaba of the Old Kingdom2 ?

By using certain "criteria" (or "trends") stemming from the concerned "convention", we can have a idea to the historic period which would be connected best with the concerned monument.

This art (or fine art) finds itself registered from the beginning on stone monuments - at the same time on the high and the bas relief, most of the cases of the painted form.

This "convention" shows itself both on the stone and on any media susceptible to receive hieroglyphs.

Very quickly, we shall find this applied art on : metal, wood, papyrus.

This art is gradually going "to popularize" - of the royal space (with mainly huge stone monuments), we are going to attend a "sliding" towards the space of the private individuals (private individuals certainly rather fortunate).

We are so going to find this art on objects as for example statues of human size, stelae, dishes, sarcophaguses.

The sacred and pictorial power of hieroglyphs had to be accessible to the largest number.

The artistic integration of hieroglyphs was almost obvious at the time of Ancient Egyptians - nowadays we still feel the brightness and the power which emanates from it.

1 There is not only a single "convention" - we discern through the available artistic corpuses, a set of "conventions".

2 For more informations, please consult the very interesting study "Mastabas et Hypogées d'Ancien Empire" of Nadine CHERPION.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thoth and hieroglyphs : what is the link ?

Thoth1 was (among others) the god of writing and knowledge.

The ancient Egyptians believed that Thoth gave them the gift of hieroglyphic writing.

In mythology, Thoth was regularly the scribe2 for other gods.

It is enough to consider the tools of the scribe associated in Thoth (and his representation) : the calame and the writing palette.

During the last dynasties, the profession of scribe passed under the protection of Thoth.

He was often considered as responsible for "divine" documents and was named as “lord of divine words,” or in other words, the hieroglyphic writing system. 

He masters all the aspects of the Egyptian language as well as its evolution.

Thoth was viewed as the god who controlled knowledge. This knowledge will be worth to him a big respect. 

He controls all the sciences : it knows everything and understands everything - That is why it invented the hieroglyphic writing.

The ancient Egyptians thought that the knowledge had been passed on to them by "books" which Thoth had voluntarily abandoned in temples - a gift for human beings.

However by its presumptuous behavior and he excess high opinion of him even agage the other gods (who do not miss to him to point out it to him).

Saying that nobody is exempt from humility in particular the Egyptian gods !

As scribe and divine clerk of the court, he participates in the various rites - The use of hieroglyphs is naturally rigorous.

1 The name "Thoth" seems to be a short version of his real name - Greeks who conquered Egypt found easier to pronounce it in this way - "Tehuti" or "Djehuty" in ancient Egyptian.


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Sunday, November 11, 2012

What Egyptian Grammar to choose ?

Sir A.H Gardiner1's Egyptian Grammar was considered for a long time as a reference. 

This work presents a complete and at the same time progressive presentation of the Egyptian language.

But since this publication (which dates more than 60 years), our knowledge of the Egyptian language evolved and grew rich.

This understanding takes into account various stages of its evolution.

Besides numerous texts published since this publication, obliging us several times to review at our understanding on certain grammatical points.

Therefore, certain number of grammars was drafted (and updated) these last years by eminent Egyptologists.

How let us have to be considered to them ?

Above all as grammatical tools.

A grammar will help us to arrest a grammatical concept, whereas the other one will refine a transliteration for example.

The use of several grammars will be some useful time.

As regards Hiero, it was important to choose one grammaire2 who could be gradually implemented : in every problem (and to every personality), his "grammar" !

You can also use the grammars which offer a part with exercises. 

These exercises, as for any learning (especially of a living or dead language), are obviously important for progressing.

They allow to study a hieroglyphic text (epigraphy).

1 for more informations, please consult

2 "Cours d'égyptien hiéroglyphique" - B. MATHIEU and P. GRANDET

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

History and evolution of hieroglyphs

The word hieroglyph derives from Greek ἱερός / hierós (« sacred ») and γλύφειν / glúphein (« engrave »).

In the Greco-Roman period, it indicated "the one who draws hieroglyphs" and not hieroglyphs themselves. 

Later, by a shift in meaning, the word hieroglyphs eventually indicates the hieroglyphic characters themselves.

It is important to distinguish the Egyptian language of the hieroglyphs which allows to note in writing the successive states of the Egyptian language.

What are really hieroglyphs ?

Egyptians named themselves their writing (or hieroglyphic writing) :  medou-netjer ("divine word") or in transliteration mdw nṯr.

At the time of the Old Kingdom and of the New Kingdom, there were approximately seven hundred hieroglyphic signs, while in the Greco-Roman period, we counted more than six thousand.

Whatever is their function, the hieroglyphs are representational : they represent something tangible, often easily recognizable, even for somebody who ignores the sense of the sign. 

For the drawing of hieroglyphs, Egyptians were inspired by their environment : for example objects of the everyday life, the animals, the plants, the parts of the body.

Before Pharaonic period, the use of the engraved hieroglyphs is not thus connected to the administrative necessities of a State in formation. 

It limited itself to the domains where the aesthetics and the magic value of the words were significant :

  • formulae of offerings, 
  • funeral formulae, 
  • religious texts, 
  • official inscriptions. 

The writing consists at first of short inscriptions.

Then from the beginning of the Old Kingdom, especially under the reign of the Djeser Pharaoh marked by the development of the religious practices and the funeral rites, elaborate constructed sentences (which we find essentially in pyramids).

The evolution of hieroglyphs

Four other stages of evolution (and progressive simplification) of this writing can be 
distinguished : 

  • later the hieroglyphic stage comes the linear hieroglyphs1,
  • the hieratic2 writing,
  • the demotic3 writing,
  • then finally comes the Copt (the last stage of the process of abstraction and simplification).

The Copt is nowadays still used, but only as liturgical language. It spells by means of the Greek alphabet to which we added seven demotic characters to transcribe sounds foreign to Greek.

example of Hieratic writing

example of Demotic writing

These states of the Egyptian writing did not follow one another one after the other : they were for partially contemporary.

Period of use of hieroglyphs

The hieroglyphic writing is attested before Pharaonic period.  The oldest inscription was discovered in 1992 on a grave in the site of Abydos.

This inscription was 
contemporary of the Mesopotamian cuneiform writing.

The last inscription known this day is dated August 24th 394, and is in the temple of Philæ.

1 A first simplification of the Egyptian system of writing is qualified by the Egyptologists of linear hieroglyphs. These keep the representational aspect of the engraved hieroglyphs, but were drawn with less precision than the latter. They were painted on the wooden sarcophaguses and the papyri of the books of deaths.

2 The hieratic writing constitutes the cursive shape. Reserved for the administrative documents and for the private documents, it was drawn in the brush and had for support ostraca, wooden tablets, or more rarely papyri and parchment of a very high cost.

3 From Saïte period, the hieratic was partially supplanted by a new cursive script, the demotic. It is about an extreme simplification of the hieratic writing, reserved for administrative acts and for documents of the current life, where from it name of "popular" writing.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Coverage Code and XCode 4 ?

The coverage code is an important aspect of a project.

It allows you to be on to "cover" (as his name indicates it) at most, during your tests, the computing sources that you elaborated.

The main advantage of this method is to avoid of the useless "dead" code or unused code.

The coverage code does not substitute itself for the responsibility for writing all the necessary tests - it represents a complement useful for the process of development.

For the next version of Hiero (my software), i wish to set up the most complete possible platform of tests.

It is obvious that the coverage code is important version after version : it is important to keep a quality of code and to test all the code.

To use the coverage code, we have to generate "special" files :  ".gcda" / ".gcno" files.

Each source file to cover has to have his own ".gcda" / ".gcno" files.

Once these files were generated, we can study them with a utility ("CoverStory"1).

How to implement the coverage code under XCode 4 ?

You have to set up some settings in XCode :
  • Generate Debug Symbols to YES for the Debug configuration in the Build Settings pane of your Target to create debug symbols
  • Set Generate Test Coverage Files to YES for the Debug configuration in the Build Settings pane of your Target
  • Set Instrument Program Flow to YES  for the Debug configuration in the Build Settings pane of your Target
  • Set Compiler for C/C++/Objective-C to Default Compiler (Apple LLVM compiler).
Then Click Run to run your application : your files are generated !

They are located in the Objects-normal folder at :
 ~/Library/Developer/XCode/DerivedData/<your application name>/Build/Intermediates/<your application name>.build/Debug/<your application name>.build/Objects-normal/<architecture> on your machine.

You can use coverage code for Application or Framework !

For Framework, there is a "subtlety" :

In your tests unit scheme :
Build Configuration Debug
Executable            none
Debugger              LLDB

I hope that these few information will be useful for you - paid attention to set up correctly your settings, source frequency of error.

1 CoverStory is not a part of XCode - it's a stand-alone application. You can download it here.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reflections about Texts of Pyramids

The texts of pyramids is the oldest collection known for the literature of old Egypt.

They supply an outline or an interpretation of the oldest human thoughts (the life, the death, the universe) according to the spirit of the old Egyptians.

They are "organized" funeral texts of the Egyptian history.

Why this naming: texts of pyramids ?

These texts appear the first time during the Old Kingdom (from the end of the 5th dynasty) and mainly over the walls of pyramids1.

They were copied during all the history of Egypt : of the Old Kingdom in the Roman period.

The texts of the pyramids of late periods are very interesting because they give us an idea of the evolution, the use and the understanding of these texts during these periods.

They establish a deep source for all those who wish to understand the history of the Egyptian thought.

Who were the beneficiaries of these texts ?

The texts of pyramids are intended at first for the royal function.

Rather quickly, certain queens are going to benefit from it.

In the course of the Egyptian history, the "distribution" of these texts will be wider (The notables for the Middle Kingdom, certain private individuals for more recent periods). 

The used supports will not be any more exclusively the walls of pyramids but also sarcophaguses, walls of graves, mastaba and papyrii.

Are these texts based on an older corpus ?

It seems that they are based on an older documentary bottom probably during period proto - dynastic to  first dynasties.

This documentary bottom has can be been established by the heliopolitian clergy.

Some indications with favor of this hypothesis :
  • certain hieroglyphic engravings forgotten for example the fact of replacing the term "king" by the name of king owner of the pyramid
  • trace of certain customs / living conditions which did not exist any more in the Old Kingdom (example : cannibalism2)
  • old techniques of construction which are not any more used for royal complexes3
  • allusions to the burial in full ground4

What contain these texts ?

A collection of formulas of offerings, magic and conjuratoires formulas, texts of resurrection, hymns texts (with hymns with favor of Isis).

Practically no narrative texts.

How to approach these texts ?

The specialists use a coded "system".

This "system" allows to identify :
  • the name of the deceased
  • the room of the funeral apartment
  • cardinal orientation of the wall concerned5
  • order number of the column or the line on the wall

1 Kings : Unas, Teti, Pepi I Meryre, Merenre, Pepi II Neferkare, Aba (Qakare Ibi) - Queens : Neith, Iput, Wedjebten, Ankhesenpepy II, Behenou

2 Sprüche {273, 274}

3 Sprüch {355}

4 Sprüch {662}

5 For the long walls the orientation is completed by "w" (west), "n" (north), "e" (east), "s" (south) - for the walls which divide into several elements : "sup" (superior), "med" (median), "low" (lower) - for the walls of corridors and descenderies :  "prev" (previous), "med" (median), "post" (posterior)

If you loved this article and if you wish to support this project, not to hesitate to download HIERO on the MacApp Store.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The proposal with adverbial predicate : what is it ?

In Ancient Egyptian, a proposal is a word group which describes a relation of situation
(1) or a relation of identity (2) between 2 elements (A and B).

(1) A is in such situation with regard to B

(2) A is B

The element A represents the subject of the proposal.

The element B represents the predicate of the proposal.

In the case of a relation of situation, the predicate is "adverbial" - Example : " is1 on the table ".

In the case of a relation of identity, the predicate is "nominal" - Example : " is a feline ".

Hiero manages only the proposals with a relation of situation2.

This proposal is called "proposal with adverbial predicate".

The order of this proposal is the following one: subject + predicate.

The subject can be a name, a pronoun or a "nominal syntagm" (word group: ex - name + adjective, name + possessive phrase or quite other group allowing to describe the subject).

The predicate is a " adverbial syntagm " (word group having the same sense as an adverb).

"To detect" this type of proposal, the Ancient Egyptian uses an indicator (indicator of statement - jw).

It corresponds to a spatial and temporal point - Example : "here and Now" and mark the beginning of the proposal.

This indicator is not translatable, it precedes simply this type of proposal.

1 The verb "to be" is used as a linguistic link - In Ancient Egyptian, this link is useless. It is used by grammatical "comfort".

2 Hiero manages exactly the proposals with a relation of situation among which the link between the subject and the predicate can express itself by the verb "to be".

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What are the determiners ?

To indicate the lexical field of the "words" (or semantic category - feel), we resort to determiners.

Example : the determiner "child carrying the hand in its mouth" indicates the category (or sense) "young child".

They are placed at the end of word to facilitate the reading of a hieroglyphic sequence.

They are not pronounced.

Determiners can also serve to bound "words" of a sequence : the punctuation does not exist in Ancient Egyptian.

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What are ideograms ?

An ideogram (hieroglyphic sign) represents or an object or one or several actions.

It can also evoke a subject in a indirect way according to a natural, permanent or symbolic relationship - Example : for the God Horus, the hawk.

Ideograms "capture" a "word" or a notion.

If we remove the visual value of an ideogram to hold only the phonetic value, the ideogram becomes then a phonogram.

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The Transliteration in Egyptology it is what and which interest ?

When we study an Egyptian text, it is the custom to establish at first the phonetic reading, the word by word, by means of phonograms (we shall see farther in this article than are phonograms).

We can insert conventionnal vowels1 necessary for this phonetic read.

We say while we
transliterate the text.

The transliteration is in a way a system of "intermediate" writing between hieroglyphs2 and your mother tongue.

This system of writing is accepted and used3 by the egyptologic scientific community.

Example of transliteration : 

Erman and Grapow 1926–1953

  • ḥtp-dỉ-nśwt wśỉr ḫntỉj ỉmntjw nṯr ˤȝ nb ȝbḏw wp-wȝwt nb tȝ ḏśr

It is possible from a sequence transliterated to obtain a transcription (or "translation") in your mother tongue. 

In this case, the use of lexicographical lists4 is strongly recommended.

What are phonograms ?

The hieroglyphic system is partially phonetic, that is number of hieroglyphic signs corresponds to a fundamental sound (phoneme).

A phonogram is thus a character writes which, contrary to ideograms, is the arbitrary transcription of a sound - uniliteral (1 consonant), biliteral (2 consonants), triliteral (3 consonants).

Certain phonograms (rather rare) write more than 3 consonants.

Phonograms thus write a sound or a sequence of fundamental sounds. They give indications as for the pronunciation of this sequence of sounds.

Phonograms are always consonantal, that is they write only consonants or semi-consonants.

The singing exercise of the Egyptian language does not correspond to what the Ancient Egyptians pronounced. It is about a egyptologic convention consisting in binding by "e" more at least stressed, the consonants the phonetic value of which is known. The link with the other more recent languages (ex: the Coptic) allows to restore certain vowels and certain stress accents.
2 In 1927, Sir Alan Henderson Gardiner, in his Egyptian Grammar, proposes a new system of classification in 26 categories (one for every letter of the alphabet except the « J », more an additional category for the signs the definition of which is uncertain).
3 An computing codification is used for the layout of a hieroglyphic sequence during the publication or during the distribution of egyptologic works. This process facilitates the publication of texts where the inclusion of photographs or drawings of an actual Egyptian document is impractical.
4 In linguistics, the lexicon of a language establishes in a more common way, " all words ". Always in the current usages, we use, more easily the term vocabulary. A lexicon is in a way a collection of terms the sense of which is explained.

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Trick to solve your possible (and strange) problems of printing under OsX !

During the tests of printing of documents generated by my software, i was in front of a really strange problem !

Once the printing worked correctly, once it did not work any more !

More exactly I did not save my printing in a file PDF.

No modifications nevertheless had been brought to sources (i just used the "printDocument" method supplies by system). 

I updated just as one goes along OSX, my Driver of Printer and XCode.

What was the cause of the problem ?

By subjecting the problem to the technical service of Apple and by stating the situation, I noticed that it was necessary to follow the following points :
  1. You must to have your Print Driver up-to-date (pay attention : a version of your driver for your current version of OSX is not necessary available)
  2. Use the last version of XCode (which corrects the bugs among which the bugs of printing)
  3. Use the last version of OSX
And now, no problems with printing !

If you loved this article and if you wish to support this project, not to hesitate to download HIERO on the MacApp Store.

Trick before submit of your software on the Mac App Store !

When i have submit my software for the first time on the Mac App Store, i realized that the Review Apple Team (often) used the last version of OSX.

Unfortunately it was not the case when i developped my software !

Bugs were revealed during the Review ; bugs which would have been able to be avoided if i had tested my software with the last version of OSX.

Thus if i can give you a advice, test always your softwares with the last version of OSX before submitting them.

If you loved this article and if you wish to support this project, not to hesitate to download HIERO on the MacApp Store.