From Hieroglyphics to the Internet

Each time you use the Internet, you need to read and write. Have you
ever thought about who invented writing, and what the first kind of
writing looked like? You might be very surprised to know that when
writing was first invented, people didn’t use letters like our modern
alphabet at all. They used pictures to show what they meant.

Although
people like to fight about it, most historians agree that the Ancient Egyptians
were the first people to write words. They did this by joining pictures
together. They had two types of writing. One was very fancy, and took a very
long time at school to learn, this was used for religious writing. Only very
important people stayed at school long enough to use the fancy kind of writing.
The other kind was much easier, and was used for making lists, writing journals,
and writing letters. If you were at school in Ancient Egypt, you would probably
do your homework using the easier kind. The fancy kind is called hieroglyphic
and the other kind is called demotic, and looked a little bit more like writing.
The Egyptians liked to write on walls (maybe you could say they invented
graffiti, too) and they also used to write on something called a papyrus. This
was a little bit like paper, but was made from reeds that were pressed together
and dried, to form a thick, hard sheet, that wasn’t very bendy.

The
Egyptians stopped using hieroglyphics and demotics nearly 2,000 years ago, and
gradually people forgot how to read them. Then, in 1799, some French soldiers
found a stone when they were digging in Egypt. They were building a fort in a
place called “Rosetta” and so the stone is called the
Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is sort of like the world’s very first
dictionary.

The
stone had three different types of writing on it. One of the languages was
Greek, and the other two were the two different types of Ancient Egyptian
writing. Scholars realized that all three languages said the same thing. Even
though they couldn’t read the hieroglyphics, they could all read the Greek, so
pretty soon
one of them
worked out how to read the hieroglyphics, too. After all, they
were scholars, so they were smart.

Eventually
people invented paper and printing presses, and then lots of books were written.
Then came typewriters, and lastly the computer. With the computer came the
Internet. The Internet is almost like a giant book, full of all sorts of
wonderful things to read, and do, and find out about. You can find out lots more
about hieroglyphics, and you can even
write your name using hieroglyphics.