A 37-year project to compile a dictionary of an ancient Egyptian script used for daily communication has been completed, offering an unprecedented look at the words of ordinary ancient Egyptians.
The Chicago Demotic Dictionary, so named because it was created by University of Chicago researchers, translates Demotic Egyptian, the tongue of common Egyptians from about 500 B.C. to A.D. 500.
Demotic was used in everyday Egyptian documents and letters, said Janet Johnson, a University of Chicago Egyptologist. The researchers compiled the words in the dictionary from Demotic on stone carvings, papyrus and broken fragments of pottery.
I think this will end up being fare more interesting — and important — than the usual texts that make up the bulk of translations, mostly tomb and temple-related inscriptions. This was everyday life which is what made it all possible. And not just what the elites wanted everyone to know, what a lot of ordinary Egyptians wanted each other to know. Economics, health, all sorts of seemingly trivial stuff, yet vital to the whole of Egyptian culture. Excellent.