What is Hieratic?

Hieratic was a kind of writing based on hieroglyphic but with more flowing lines - like cursive writing compared to printing. 'Hieratic' means priestly, because it was used by priests. Many other scribes used it, though, for all sorts of day to day writing. It was much quicker to write than hieroglyphs. It is harder to see pictures in it, though. 

The Chester-Beatty papyrus, rolled up, written in hieratic. It contains stories, love songs, and economic records.

How Hieratic Changed

At first hieratic was a lot like hieroglyphs. If you look carefully in this picture you can see how each hieroglyph (on the bottom) has a hieratic symbol that's quite similar to it (on top). 

A thousand years later, though, hieratic had become quite different to the hieroglyphs, as you can see here. You can still see some similarity though. Look at the third symbol, a man carrying a stick - it's clear to see in the hieratic too.


These two pictures were taken from Alan Gardiner's Egyptian Grammar