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In their own histories, the ancient Egyptians attribute the greatness of their civilization to the inspiration and wisdom of a spiritual leadership stretching tens of thousands of years back in time. Several of the historical documents that have survived to this day — the Palermo Stone, the Turin Papyrus and Manetho's "History of Egypt" — refer to several stages of Egyptian civilization. The first era was the time of the "neteru" or "nechru"(gods), who each ruled for thousands of years. This period ended with the last neter or necher, Horus. Second was the era of the "Shemsu Hor" (followers of Horus). This period ended with Menes/Narmer. Third was the era of the dynastic pharaohs. This is the period that Egyptologists study and which archaeological evidence has verified.



The civilization of the Ancient Egyptians lasted for nearly 3000 years, during which time, the relative importance of different "Neteru" shifted and newer ones became more prominent. These images were used to represent the various aspects of creation, or "Neteru". The "English" names written here have been transliterated (represented by the alphabetic characters of another language) and are in common use. They were developed by early students of Ancient Egypt as a way of speaking and writing about what they found written on papyrii and in stone on the walls of tombs and temples. The original Egyptians did not include the vowel sounds (a, e, i, o, u,) in the heiroglyphic language, apparently to keep secret the actual pronunciation of powerfull magical statments. Since we cannot pronounce words without vowels, Egyptologists have added vowel sounds and letters that suit their preference and national language.

Some hieroglyphs were pictorial; symbols or figures specifying the range of uses or meaning. Others were phonetic, called phonograms, and represent sounds. There are three types of phonograms, a monolateral, which stands for the sound of one letter, a bilateral, which stands for the sound of two letters and a trilateral, which stands for the sound of three letters.
For example the heiroglyph consists of two phonograms (r and ã, both consonant sounds) and a pictorial (the solar disc) indicating that the word means "sun".
It is written as Ra in English and in German. What it really sounded like is anybody's guess.

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Updated September 15, 2000.