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Sandra L. Lippert (Tübingen)

Hieratic vs. Demotic – changing uses of two Egyptian cursive scripts
(with an excursus on the development of Old Coptic)

Ancient Egyptian is one of the few languages that were, in the course of their existence, written with not only two, but up to four different scripts synchronously. This paper will focus on the two cursive scripts, Hieratic and Demotic, that co-existed for about a millennium, from ca. 650 BCE to ca. 300 CE. While their modern designations Hieratic and Demotic, based on the description of their use by various ancient Greek authors from the fifth century BCE onwards, suggest that the first one was employed by priests and the second by lay people, this simplistic user-based differentiation has to be modified after more detailed scrunity. We will therefore consider which role e.g. subject matter, writing material and addressee as well as intention of the writer played in determining whether Hieratic or Demotic was used.

If time permits, the talk will also give an up-to-date view of the controversial issue of when, how and why Old Coptic was created and how this script developed into ‘normal’ Coptic.