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Calligraphy in ancient Egyptian handwriting


There are few written sources for ancient Egyptian opinions on handwriting. Appreciation of good handwriting is implied by a negative view of graffiti preserved in one New Kingdom graffito at the Step Pyramid.

Apart from such rare references, our information comes from the manuscripts themselves, which have yet to be studied in depth on this topic.

The fragmentary papyrus UC 32783, illustrated on the right, bears a copy of a letter to king Amenhotep IV just before he changed his name to Akhenaten. The care in writing, appropriate for a despatch to the king, provides a starting-point for considerations of calligraphy in ancient Egyptian handwriting.



Consider the following:

Content affects format, dictating style; the range of handwriting at any one period must also be considered. The cultivation of fine hands can be studied across the blocks of content and time, once these have been distinguished (compare the table illustrating the scope of writing).

Compare: orientation of hieroglyphs


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