Ancient African Writing (Part 4)

Continued from Part 3

Kemetic “Demotic” (650 BC – 600 AD):

A loan agreement in Demotic script (c. 200 BC).

A loan agreement in Demotic script (c. 200 BC).

The term “Demotic” was utilized by Greek writer/historian, Herodotus (484 – 425 BC), to distinguish it from the “Hieratic” script. Whereas “Hieratic” connotes “priestly,” the term “Demotic” is derived from the Greek word “demos” which means common people. It is potentially the world’s first cursive or flowing script, and used for basic legal agreements, administrative documents like employee timesheets or inventory lists, and friendly letters. It is very important to note that “Demotic” was introduced in the Kemet’s 25th Dynasty, which had “Nubian” or Kushitic origins. It’s also worth mentioning that “Demotic” is the second script used on the famous “Rosetta Stone,” which has been used by linguists to decipher the older Medu Neter, and “Demotic” is the basis for later scripts such as “Arabic.”

Coptic (300 AD – present):

A religious Coptic inscription in Upper (southern) Kemet.

A religious Coptic inscription in Upper (southern) Kemet.

The word, “Coptic”, derives from the Greek word, “Ai-GYPT-os (a corruption of the Kemetic word, “Ha KA PTAH,” meaning house of the soul of Ptah, the location of Memphis and Giza and later all the Nile Delta). Coptic is a descendent of “Demotic” Kemetic and Greek writing (although it is important to note that the Greek script derives from both “Demotic” and Proto-Saharan). The system of writing was developed in the early Christian era by the so-called Copts, who were descendents of both the ancient Kemetic people and the Greek invaders/occupiers of Kemet. In their quest to retain much of the knowledge written in “Demotic”, a language that was no longer in use at the time, they got knowledgable scribes to write “Demotic” religious texts using Greek letters with additional letters that derive directly from “Demotic”. The meaning or essence of the text itself was not translated into the Greek language–only the alphabet was transcribed from “Demotic” to Greek script. Thus the Coptic spoken language is not related to Greek; it is wholly African and most similar to modern Nubian languages.

“Old Nubian” (800 AD – 1500 AD):

An excerpt from the Book of Archangel Michael found at Qasr Irbim in Kush (“Lower Nubia”)

The so-called “Old Nubian” script is a descendant of both ancient Napatan and Coptic, and the Old Nubian tongue is an ancestor of the modern Nubian languages, such as Nobiin. Old Nubian was used in writings in the Christian kingdom of Makuria whose capital was mainly Dongola in central Sudan.

By: Ta


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