Ancient Egyptian Laguage,

Egyptian language

Egyptian is the indigenous language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known. Egyptian was spoken until the late 7th century AD in the form of Coptic. The national language of modern-day Egypt is Egyptian Arabic, which gradually replaced Coptic as the language of daily life in the centuries after the Muslim conquest of Egypt. Coptic is still used as the liturgical language of the Coptic Church. It has a handful of fluent speakers today.


Scholars group the Egyptian language into six major chronological divisions:

  • Archaic Egyptian (before 2600 BC, the language of the Early Dynastic Period)
  • Old Egyptian (2686 BC – 2181 BC, the language of the Old Kingdom)
  • Middle Egyptian (2055 BC – 1650 BC, Middle Kingdom up to the Amarna Period; continued in use as a literary language into the 4th century AD)
  • Late Egyptian (1069 BC – 700 BC, Amarna Period through the Third Intermediate Period)
  • Demotic (7th century BC – 5th century AD, Late Period through Roman times)
  • Coptic (1st century AD – 17th century AD, early Roman times to early modern times)
Egyptian writing in the form of label and signs has been dated to 3200 BC. These early texts are generally lumped together under the term "Archaic Egyptian."

In 1999, Archaeology Magazine reported that the earliest Egyptian glyphs date back to 3400 BC which "...challenge the commonly held belief that early logographs, pictographic symbols representing a specific place, object, or quantity, first evolved into more complex phonetic symbols in Mesopotamia."

Old Egyptian was spoken for some 500 years from 2600 BC onwards. Middle Egyptian was spoken from about 2000 BC for a further 700 years when Late Egyptian made its appearance; Middle Egyptian did, however, survive until the first few centuries AD as a written language, similar to the use of Latin during the Middle Ages and that of Classical Arabic today. Demotic Egyptian first appears about 650 BC and survived as a spoken language until the fifth century AD. Coptic Egyptian appeared in the fourth century AD and survived as a living language until the sixteenth century AD, when European scholars traveled to Egypt to learn it from native speakers during the Renaissance. It probably survived in the Egyptian countryside as a spoken language for several centuries after that. The Bohairic dialect of Coptic is still used by the Egyptian Christian Churches.