Scribes (called ah ts’ib, or “he of the writing”) were probably the literate younger sons of nobles not in the direct line of inheritance for offices and wealth. They lived in elite palace compounds and worked in royal workshops. Their job was to produce objects for use in palaces and rituals and as elite gifts. Given their background and patrons, it is not surprising that scribes painted scenes of palace life and elite rituals and ignored commoners when they depicted the world of humans.
Hieroglyphic texts are an integral part of many ceramic vessels. Epigraphers (writing experts) have identified a formulaic text known as the Primary Standard Sequence, which is usually located just below the rim of some pots. The PSS generally begins by dedicating the act of painting, a surface treatment which makes the completed vessel proper, records the vessel’s original contents, names the owner for whom it was made and sometimes ends with the signature of the artist. Not all sequences of glyphs below the rim are the PSS. Texts which discuss the images on a pot appear as short passages within the scene or, occasionally, replace the PSS.