Writing system used in Egypt, that developed from the hieroglyphic system.
The word "hieratic" comes from the Greek, denoting "priestly," since this type of writing was used only for sacred texts during the last 1000 years of its existence.
Hieratic script was used in carved or painted inscriptions, but normally it was written in ink with a reed pen on papyrus. Heriatic script lasted for about 3200 years, but during the last 1000 years it was challenged by demotic script.
In general, hieratic script was more important in Ancient Egypt than hieroglyphs. It was taught in school, hieroglyphs, themselves, being only understood by a small minority in the society.
Form and Structure
During the first phases of its existence, hieratic script was written vertically, but this was ultimately changed to horizontal writing, with a direction from right to left. Hieratic script was never written from left to right, which sometimes occurred with hieroglyphs.
Hieratic script developed from hieroglyphs as a means to speed up the writing process. Generally, the pictographs of the hieroglyphs were lost in hieratic script. One or two signs could be written in one stroke. There were also diacritical additions so that similar signs could be distinguished.
Around 2750 BCE: First examples of hieratic script.
Around 2000 BCE: Writing direction changes from vertical to horizontal.
Around 600 BCE: Demotic script replaces hieratic script for use in secular writing. Hieratic continued to be used for religious texts.
Around 100 CE: Last examples of hieratic script.