hieratic scriptEgyptian hieraticEgyptian scripts
It was primarily written in ink with a reed pen on papyrus. In the second century, the term hieratic was first used by Clement of Alexandria. It derives from the Greek for "priestly writing", as at that time, hieratic was used only for religious texts and literature, as had been the case for the previous eight and a half centuries. Hieratic can also be an adjective meaning "[o]f or associated with sacred persons or offices; sacerdotal." Hieratic developed as a cursive form of hieroglyphic script in the Naqada III period, roughly 3200–3000 BCE.

Ancient Egyptian literature

literatureancient EgyptianAncient Egyptian texts
Along with the chisel, necessary for making inscriptions on stone, the chief writing tool of ancient Egypt was the reed pen, a reed fashioned into a stem with a bruised, brush-like end. With pigments of carbon black and red ochre, the reed pen was used to write on scrolls of papyrus—a thin material made from beating together strips of pith from the Cyperus papyrus plant—as well as on small ceramic or limestone potsherds known as ostraca. It is thought that papyrus rolls were moderately expensive commercial items, since many are palimpsests, manuscripts that have had their original contents erased to make room for new written works.


MesopotamianMesopotamiansAncient Iraq
Thus, only a limited number of individuals were hired as scribes to be trained in its use. It was not until the widespread use of a syllabic script was adopted under Sargon's rule that significant portions of the Mesopotamian population became literate. Massive archives of texts were recovered from the archaeological contexts of Old Babylonian scribal schools, through which literacy was disseminated. During the third millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerian and the Akkadian language users, which included widespread bilingualism.


A qalam is a type of pen made from a cut, dried reed, used for Islamic calligraphy. The pen is seen as an important symbol of wisdom in Islam, and references the emphasis on knowledge and education within the Islamic tradition. The word was borrowed from Greek kálamos (κάλαμος, "reed"), possibly via Ge'ez ḳäläm (ቀለም, "reed") mixed into the root of ḳälämä (ቀለመ, "to color, to stain, to write"). The stems of hollow reeds are cut at specific angles depending on intended script so that they can be used for calligraphy, and the type of reed used varies depending on the specific calligrapher's preferences.


quill penpencrowquill
Before this the reed pen had been used, but a finer letter was achieved on animal skin using a cured quill. Other than written text, they were often used to create figures, decorations, and images on manuscripts, although many illuminators and painters preferred fine brushes for their work. The variety of different strokes in formal hands was accomplished by good penmanship as the tip was square cut and rigid, exactly as it is today with modern steel pens. It was much later, in the 1600s, with the increased popularity of writing, especially in the copperplate script promoted by the many printed manuals available from the 'Writing Masters', that quills became more pointed and flexible.


Triangular or wedge-shaped reeds were used to write on moist clay. A large body of hundreds of thousands of texts in the Sumerian language have survived, such as personal and business letters, receipts, lexical lists, laws, hymns, prayers, stories, and daily records. Full libraries of clay tablets have been found. Monumental inscriptions and texts on different objects, like statues or bricks, are also very common. Many texts survive in multiple copies because they were repeatedly transcribed by scribes in training. Sumerian continued to be the language of religion and law in Mesopotamia long after Semitic speakers had become dominant.


Calligraphy is particularly evident on their prayer wheels, although this calligraphy was forged rather than scribed, much like Arab and Roman calligraphy is often found on buildings. Although originally done with a reed, Tibetan calligraphers now use chisel tipped pens and markers as well. Ethiopian (Abyssinian) calligraphy began with the Ge'ez script, which replaced Epigraphic South Arabian in the Kingdom of Aksum, that was developed specifically for Ethiopian Semitic languages. In those languages that use it, such as Amharic and Tigrinya, the script is called, which means script or alphabet.


cuneiform scriptAkkadian cuneiformSumerian cuneiform
It is distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. The name cuneiform itself simply means "wedge-shaped". The word "cuneiform" was coined in 1700 by the English orientalist Thomas Hyde (1663–1703): According to (Meade, 1974), p. 5, the German naturalist, physician, and explorer Engelbert Kaempfer (1651–1716) is often credited with having coined the word "cuneiform"; see: * Kaempfer, Engelbert, Amoenitatum Exoticarum ... [Of Foreign Charms ... ] (Lippe (Lemgoviae), (Germany): Heinrich Wilhelm Meyer, 1712), p. 331.


stylistylus pengramophone needle
They were mostly made of reeds and had a slightly curved trapezoidal section. Egyptians (Middle Kingdom) and the Minoans of Crete (Linear A and Cretan Hieroglyphic) made styluses in various materials: reeds that grew on the sides of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and in marshes and down to Egypt where the Egyptians used styluses from sliced reeds with sharp points; bone and metal styluses were also used. Cuneiform was entirely based on the "wedge-shaped" mark that the end of a cut reed made when pushed into a clay tablet; from Latin cuneus = wedge.

Dead Sea Scrolls

Dead Sea scrollTanakh at QumranQumran Scrolls
In order to apply the ink to the scrolls, its writers used reed pens. The Dead Sea scrolls were written on parchment made of processed animal hide known as vellum (approximately 85.5–90.5% of the scrolls), papyrus (estimated at 8.0–13.0% of the scrolls), and sheets of bronze composed of about 99.0% copper and 1.0% tin (approximately 1.5% of the scrolls). For those scrolls written on animal hides, scholars with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, by use of DNA testing for assembly purposes, believe that there may be a hierarchy in the religious importance of the texts based on which type of animal was used to create the hide.


Similar words can be found in Sanskrit (कलम kalama, meaning "reed" and "pen" as well as a type of rice), Hebrew (kulmus, meaning quill) and Latin (calamus) as well as the ancient Greek Κάλαμος (Kalamos). The Arabic word قلم qalam (meaning "pen" or "reed pen") is likely to have been borrowed from one of these languages in antiquity. The Swahili word kalamu ("pen") comes from the Arabic qalam.

Nib (pen)

nibnibspen nib
The quill replaced the reed pen across Europe by the Early Middle Ages and remained the main writing tool of the West for nearly a thousand years until the 17th century. Quills are fashioned by cutting a nib into the end of a feather obtained from a fairly large bird, such as a goose, traditionally from its left wing. A quill has the advantage of being more durable and more flexible than a reed pen, and it can also retain ink in the hollow shaft of the feather, known as the calamus, allowing more writing time between ink dippings. The quill was in common use until the early 19th century and the advent of the metal nib.


grassturfgrass family
Larger bamboos and Arundo donax have stout culms that can be used in a manner similar to timber, Arundo is used to make reeds for woodwind instruments, and bamboo is used for innumerable implements. 'Phragmites australis' (common reed) is important for thatching and grass roots stabilize the sod of sod houses. Reeds are used in water treatment systems, in wetland conservation and land reclamation in Afro-Eurasia. Marram grass (Ammophila arenaria) Grasses are the primary plant used in lawns, which themselves derive from grazed grasslands in Europe. They also provide an important means of erosion control (e.g., along roadsides), especially on sloping land.

Reed bed

Most European reed beds mainly comprise Phragmites australis but also include many other tall monocotyledons adapted to growing in wet conditions – other grasses such as reed sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima), Canary reed-grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and small-reed (Calamagrostis species), large sedges (species of Carex, Scirpus, Schoenoplectus, Cladium and related genera), yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus), reed-mace ("bulrush" – Typha species), water-plantains (Alisma species), and flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus).


wetlandscoastal wetlandwetland habitat
The grasses of fertile floodplains such as the Nile produce the highest yield including plants such as Arundo donax (giant reed), Cyperus papyrus (papyrus), Phragmites (reed) and Typha (cattail, bulrush). Wetlands naturally produce an array of vegetation and other ecological products that can be harvested for personal and commercial use. The most significant of these is fish which have all or part of their life-cycle occur within a wetland system. Fresh and saltwater fish are the main source of protein for one billion people and comprise 15% of an additional two billion people's diets.

Writing implement

writing instrumentwriting instrumentswriting utensil
Reed pens were used by the ancient Egyptians to write on papyrus. Quill pens were standard in Europe and the United States up through the 18th and 19th centuries, and are still used in various contexts, such as calligraphy and formal settings such as major bank transactions. The most common quills were taken from the wings of geese or ravens, although the feathers of swans and peacocks were sometimes favored for prestige. A dip pen has a steel nib (the pen proper) and a pen-holder.

Nipponaclerda biwakoensis

While Phragmites is often considered a noxious weed, in Louisiana the reed beds, dubbed "roseau cane", are critical to the stability of the shorelines of wetland areas and waterways of the Mississippi Delta, and the die-off of reed beds is believed to accelerate coastal erosion.

Scribe equipment (hieroglyph)

scribe's palettesignify the scribepalette
*Scribe 1) tube case – for holding writing-reeds. 2) leather bag – for holding colored inks (the canonical colors, black and red, mixed with water and gum). 3) wood scribal palette – with mixing pools; (not always made from wood). Betrò, 1995. Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt, Betrò, Maria Carmela, c. 1995, 1996-(English), Abbeville Press Publishers, New York, London, Paris (hardcover, ISBN: 0-7892-0232-8). Budge. An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, E.A.Wallace Budge, (Dover Publications), c 1978, (c 1920), Dover edition, 1978. (In two volumes, 1314 pp, and cliv-(154) pp.) (softcover, ISBN: 0-486-23615-3).

Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area

Pass a l'OutrePass a L’OutrePass a l' Outre
Since 2017, over 80% of the reed beds of Roseau Cane in the WMA have been damaged by the invasive "Roseau Cane Mealybug", Nipponaclerda biwakoensis, threatening wildlife habitat throughout the affected regions of the WMA. Pass a Loutre is the final destination of the Mississippi Flyway bird migration route for many species.

Reed (plant)

reedreedsreed grass
Bamboo and, even more commonly, rattan stems are used as "reed sticks" to wick and disperse the scent of essential oils in aroma diffusers. (See .) Common reed (Phragmites australis), the original species named reed. Giant reed (Arundo donax), used for making reeds for musical instruments. Burma reed (Neyraudia reynaudiana). Reed canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea). Reed sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima). Small-reed (Calamagrostis species). Bur-reed (Sparganium species). Reed-mace (Typha species), also called bulrush or cattail. Cape thatching reed (Elegia tectorum), a restio originating from the South-western Cape, South Africa.

Aquatic plant

aquaticmacrophyteaquatic plants
Examples include stands of Equisetum fluviatile, Glyceria maxima, Hippuris vulgaris, Sagittaria, Carex, Schoenoplectus, Sparganium, Acorus, yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus), Typha and Phragmites australis. Free-floating macrophytes are aquatic plants that are found suspended on water surface with their root not attached to substrate, sediment, or bottom of the water body. They are easily blown by air and provide breeding ground for mosquitoes. Example include Pistia spp commonly called water lettuce, water cabbage or Nile cabbage. The many possible classifications of aquatic plants are based upon morphology.


music copyistcopycopy documents
Scribe. Scrivener.

Arundo donax

giant reedgiant canecane
Overall, the plant resembles an outsize common reed (Phragmites australis) or a bamboo (subfamily Bambusoideae). Arundo donax flowers in late summer, bearing upright, feathery plumes 40 to 60 cm long, that are usually seedless or with seeds that are rarely fertile. Instead, it mostly reproduces vegetatively by tough, fibrous underground rhizomes that form knotty, spreading mats which penetrate deep into the soil, up to 1 m deep (Alden et al., 1998; Mackenzie, 2004). Stem and rhizome pieces less than 5 cm long and containing a single node could sprout readily under a variety of conditions (Boose and Holt, 1999).


scriptoriascriptoriums scriptoria
A classically educated Roman convert, Cassiodorus wrote extensively on scribal practices. He cautions over-zealous scribes to check their copies against ancient, trustworthy exemplars and to take care not to change the inspired words of scripture because of grammatical or stylistic concerns. He declared "every work of the Lord written by the scribe is a wound inflicted on Satan", for "by reading the Divine Scripture he wholesomely instructs his own mind and by copying the precepts of the Lord he spreads them far and wide". It is important to note that Cassiodorus did include the classical texts of ancient Rome and Greece in the monastic library.

Hebrew language

HebrewHebrew grammarHeb.
Certain Sadducee, Pharisee, Scribe, Hermit, Zealot and Priest classes maintained an insistence on Hebrew, and all Jews maintained their identity with Hebrew songs and simple quotations from Hebrew texts. While there is no doubt that at a certain point, Hebrew was displaced as the everyday spoken language of most Jews, and that its chief successor in the Middle East was the closely related Aramaic language, then Greek, scholarly opinions on the exact dating of that shift have changed very much.