Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Egyptian hieroglyphs were a form of writing used by the ancient Egyptians. I spent some time the other week trying to translate some hieroglyphs on some new beads I purchased. One thing I learned is that hieroglyphs can be read left to right, right to left and top to bottom. So........ how do you know which way round to read them to start with. The answer lies with the way the actual pictures are facing. For example. If a bird is facing left the you read them from left to right. Vice versa if the bird or character is facing right.

Egyptian hieroglyphs are not that straight forward however to read. They also have phonetic and logogram glyphs and a few more besides too, which can make translation difficult if you haven't studied hieroglyphs before or are trying to translate some thing.

The real breakthrough of translation came when the Rosetta stone was discovered by Napolean's troops in 1799. In the early 19th century scholars studied the inscriptions on the stone and were able to make some head way. However even top scholars confessed. "It is a complex system, writing figurative, symbolic, and phonetic all at once, in the same text, the same phrase, I would almost say in the same word" Jean Francois Champollian

Throughout ancient Egypt many fine examples can be seen of Egyptian hierogylphs. Scribes must have spent many many hours. Strangely enough there are no hieroglyphs in the pyramids although they can be seen in the temples nearby.

Below is a simple translation picture of some of the most used Egyptian hieroglyphs should you wish to begin any translations of your own.

1 comment:

  1. So cool! How interesting...It amazes me the detail and time that the Egyptians put into hieroglyphs.