Structuring of Punctuation Devices in the Middle Kingdom Letters

Document Type : research articles


Faculty of Archaeology, Fayoum University, Egypt


Structuring of punctuation devices, of paramount importance in written texts in ancient Egypt, is a system for highlighting and differentiating the various parts of the texts, which modifies forms, linguistic, and semantic in the texts. It received little attention due to the hieratic lack of modern punctuation, the scribe utilized other techniques and structures to a genuine conception of the written texts. Although some studies have been conducted about punctuation marks in ancient Egypt, there is a scarcity of studies exploring this part in the hieratic letters.
Therefore, drawing on the Middle Kingdom hieratic letters which treat some punctuation systems, this paper outlines the ways the conventions of textual division are demonstrated in the Middle Kingdom letters. This was clearly evident from the form and layout of the papyri, the set of formulae and expressions used, the method of moving from one topic to another in a single message, and the way this idea was communicated by using formulae that replaced the punctuation marks currently known. The division of the letter into paragraphs as well as the use of capital signs to express the beginning of the letter, vacat, and the various techniques indicated in the letter are punctuation features.
More specifically, the study seeks to answer these questions: 1) Does the punctuation system exhibit in the hieratic letters? 2) what are the different systems of punctuation in the hieratic letters during the Middle Kingdom?3) Are the punctuation marks manifested in hieratic letters represent the same role as current punctuation in Arabic, English, or another?

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