Scribes played an important role in early Egypt. Only scribes and priests were taught how to read and write. They had to memorize hieroglyphic symbols. Scribes not only kept records, they also often played a supervisory role in society. The position of scribe was often inherited and past from generation to generation in the same families. Schools for scribes were held in temple courtyards. A scribe was exempt from the heavy manual labor to which most others in society were subject.