As early human settlements developed and were able to support non-agricultural specialization, a method was required to record basic information. Typically this occurred within the frameworks of religion and government.
Records were kept of inventory on tablets. Strokes for the number with pictures ('pictograms') of an animal or object. ...
Hieroglyphs were in use for over three thousand years. In part, the longevity of the Egyptian civilisation was imbued by the Nile, but whereas a written language in any culture has a tendency to change, hieroglyphs exhibit an unusual stability. One reason is that hieroglyphs were considered the language of the gods (hieroglyphs Greek, sacred writing) or more precisely, from Egyptian, ‘the God’s Words’. ...
Ideograms and phonograms
In addition to the single consonants listed above, there are symbols that represent double or triple consonants (bilaterals and trilaterals).
There are about 130 bilaterals but just a handful are commonly used. Again, a bilateral or trilateral can often also represent an object. ...
The standard classification is the one set out by Gardiner. It allocates each sign to one of 26 categories (A-I, K-Z, Aa) and numbers each within that category. ...
Read the complete article on this page: http://www.psifer.com/hier.htm
More on psifer.com:
Hieroglyhic Fonts: (download link) http://www.psifer.com/httf.zip
Introduction as a Word document: http://www.psifer.com/hier.doc (1MB)