Ancient Egyptian scripts

Demotic script

The Demotic or popular script, a name given to it by Herodotus, developed from a northern variant of the Hieratic script in around 660 BC. The Egyptians themselves called it 'sekh shat' (writing for documents). During the 26th Dynasty it became the preferred script at court, however during the 4th century it was gradually replaced by the Greek-derived Coptic alphabet. The most recent example of writing in the Demotic script dates from 425 AD.

The Demotic script was used for writing business, legal, scientific, literary and religious documents. It was written almost exclusively from right to left in horizontal lines and mainly in ink on papyrus. Demotic inscriptions on wood and stone are also known. During the Ptolemaic Period it was regularly carved in stone - the most famous example of this is the Rosetta Stone, which is inscribed with texts in the Hieroglyphic script, Greek and Demotic and was one of the keys to the decipherment of Ancient Egyptian scripts.

It was deciphered mainly by Thomas Young, who also attempted to deciphered the hieroglyphic script, though without much success.

Demotic glyphs representing single consonants

Demotic glyphs representing single consonants


Information about the Demotic script

Demotic dictionary project

Information about Ancient Egyptian

Ancient Egyptian language and Hieroglyphs | Hieratic script | Demotic script | Coptic alphabet | Links | Books about Ancient Egyptian

Egyptian languages

Ancient Egyptian, Coptic

Semanto-phonetic writing systems

Akkadian Cuneiform, Ancient Egyptian (Demotic), Ancient Egyptian (Hieratic), Ancient Egyptian (Hieroglyphs), Chinese, Chữ-nôm, Cuneiform, Japanese, Jurchen, Khitan, Linear B, Luwian, Mayan, Naxi, Sawndip (Old Zhuang), Sui, Sumerian Cuneiform, Tangut (Hsihsia)

Other writing systems

Page last modified: 15.03.23


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