Emojis have become an incredibly popular way for people to express themselves online. With over 3,000 emojis available today, there are emojis to represent a wide range of concepts, activities, food, animals, and more. However, some people have noticed that there doesn’t seem to be an emoji that specifically represents ancient Egyptian culture. In this article, we’ll explore the history of emojis, whether there is currently an ancient Egyptian emoji, and the process behind proposing new emojis.
The History of Emojis
The first emojis were created in 1999 by Shigetaka Kurita, who was working at the time for Japanese mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo. He created a set of 172 emojis for the company’s messaging platform. These original emojis were quite simple, given the technological limitations of the time. They included basic expressions like happy and sad faces, symbols like hearts and weather icons, and representations of everyday items like food.
Emojis quickly caught on in Japan and other Asian countries. However, they didn’t spread worldwide until Apple added an emoji keyboard to iOS in 2011. What really drove emojis into mainstream popularity was their addition to the Unicode Standard in 2010. This meant emojis could be shared across different platforms, regardless of operating system or device. Today, emojis are a fundamental part of digital communication and an entire language of their own.
Is There Currently an Ancient Egyptian Emoji?
When we look at the various categories of emojis today, there are none that seem to specifically represent ancient Egyptian culture. Here are some of the main emoji categories and subcategories:
- Faces – expressing emotion
- People – different genders, activities, professions
- Hand gestures – expressing ideas non-verbally
- Animals – cats, dogs, zoo animals, more
- Nature – flowers, weather, space
- Food and drink
- Activity – sports, music, travel
- Objects – clothing, electronic devices
- Symbols – hearts, math symbols, religion
- Flags – different countries
There are no specifically ancient Egyptian figures, hieroglyphs, or symbols among the current emoji list. The closest options would be using the pyramid emoji or Sphinx emoji. However, these don’t necessarily only represent ancient Egyptian culture.
Existing Emojis Related to Egypt
Here are some emojis that relate to Egypt, but are not necessarily specific to ancient Egyptian culture:
|Globe showing Egypt
|Can represent Egypt or Africa more generally
|Commonly associated with Egypt and Northern Africa
|Umbrella on Ground
|Represents hot, dry climate
|Egypt has desert climate
|Symbolizes Egypt’s hot weather
|Ancient Egyptian pyramids are world-famous
As you can see, none of these emojis are uniquely Egyptian. They represent broader concepts and symbols associated with Egypt, rather than specifically ancient Egyptian culture.
The Process for Proposing New Emojis
The Unicode Consortium is the non-profit organization that reviews proposals and approves new emojis. Their process for selecting new emojis is as follows:
- Proposals – Anyone can submit an emoji proposal, as long as it meets proposal requirements.
- Review – Proposals are reviewed by the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee, who narrowed down selections.
- Approval – Final candidates are voted on by Unicode Technical Committee.
- Release – Approved emojis get assigned Unicode code points for distribution.
The criteria Unicode uses when reviewing proposals includes:
- Expected usage level
- Image distinctiveness
- Frequently requested
Unicode tries to be very selective, typically only adding 50-60 new emojis each year. Emojis related to people and gender diversity have been a priority in recent years.
Requirements for New Emoji Proposals
For the best chance of approval, new emoji proposals should:
- Provide sample images and design ideas
- Make a strong case for expected usage
- Explain meaning and purpose
- List keywords and categories
- Provide evidence of frequently requested
Essentially, the proposal needs to convince Unicode reviewers that the emoji will be visually distinctive, widely used, and fill a clear communicative need.
The Case for an Ancient Egyptian Emoji
Given the lengthy process and selective criteria, it may be difficult to get Unicode approval for something as specific as an ancient Egyptian emoji. However, there are compelling reasons why such an emoji could be beneficial:
- Ancient Egyptian culture is iconic and recognized worldwide
- Hieroglyphs and sphinx imagery are distinctly Egyptian
- Useful for discussing history, art, archaeology
- Promotes cultural education and representation
- Ancient Egyptian mythology remains influential
- Boost tourism and interest in Egypt
Some potential ancient Egyptian emoji ideas include:
- Ankh symbol
- Eye of Horus
- Egyptian hieroglyphs
A well-designed proposal with Egyptian cultural organizations as supporters would help make a persuasive case for Unicode adoption. There may also be opportunities to propose regional Egyptian emojis for platforms like WhatsApp.
In summary, there is currently no emoji that is specifically representative of ancient Egyptian culture. The existing selection of emojis includes some that are related to Egypt more broadly, but none that distinctly symbolize its iconic ancient history. For advocates of Egyptian culture, the best opportunity would be to go through the Unicode proposal process. With a thoughtful proposal and visual samples, there is a chance an ancient Egyptian emoji could be adopted. This would be a small but meaningful way to showcase this important human civilization at the very origins of recorded history.