A survey of those objects from Late Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt which are commonly defined as the most ancient examples (and/or forerunners) of hieroglyphic writing results in classifying some of them as representatives of other Systems of Graphic Information Processing than writing. The interplay of different types of SGIPs will be scrutinized, and a working hypothesis might be that the formation of writing came about as a polycentric process:
– NUMERICAL INFORMATION STORAGE SYSTEMS brought in ordered structuring, which developed into a more and more language-like syntax of early recordings,
– NON-TEXTUAL MARKING SYSTEMS may be the sphere, where elements corresponding with non-meaningful (but only meaning-differentiating) phonological units — i.e. phonograms — were created and used first,
– GRAPHIC MEMORY AIDS perhaps may be considered triggering the offshot of early writing into something that could be used as a means for recording narratives, since some sorts of graphic memory aids were composed as mixed media, making use of elements of writing in order to render personal names.
As a consequence, the emergence of writing in Egypt was less likely the graphisation of language but rather the linguification of a graphic system.
The impact of diagrammatic and pictorial iconicity on the creation of the hieroglyphic writing system as well as deiconization processes will be treated in some detail.