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From the Greek hieros, ‘holy’ and glyphos, ‘incision’, translation of the Egyptian expression “divine language” with which the Egyptians indicated their writing. Hieroglyphics appear at the end of the 4th millennium in a somewhat sudden manner, so much so that some scholars believe they were invented by one man, probably influenced by writing from the Mesopotamia. Other Egyptologists believe, instead, that the documents before that date that would demonstrate the evolution of the graphic system, have gone lost because written on perishable material or by chance. The writing has more than 500 common signs, and up to a total of 800 signs for the Classic Period, to which every year new ones are added thanks to epigraphic and philological discoveries; in the Ptolemaic period the writing system had several thousand signs. The last hieroglyphic inscription dates from 394 AD, in the Philae temple in Upper Egypt.
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