A system of writing used by the ancient Egyptians. Heiroglyphics uses pictures to represent letters, sounds, and concepts. It cannot really be viewed as an "alphabet" because most heiroglyphs do not represent a letter or phonetic sound.
Heiroglyphic writing was elaborate, and it is believed that only preists and scribes were trained in its art. Heiroglyphs were usually carved or painted on walls, or hand painted on paper known as papyrus which was made from the tough reeds of the Nile.
For almost 1600 years, Heiroglyphics were illegible. No one could translate them. Then, in 1799, soldiers of Napoleon's army were working in Rosetta, Egypt. One of the soldiers went off to go to the bathroom, and, while doing so, noticed a black stone with 3 bands of letters on it. The stone has become known as the Rosetta Stone. The bands of letters were parallel characters in Heiroglyphs, Demotic letters, and Greek letters. Since Greek was easily translated, the stone served as a key for understanding the mysterious picture-writing of the ancient Egyptians.