Tag Archives: Egyptian hieroglyphs

Reading Egyptian Art

Reading Egyptian Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture by Richard H Wilkinson, from Thames & Hudson, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Richard H Wilkinson Reading Egyptian Art from Thames Hudson

“A multi-purpose reference work, providing the key to the hidden meanings in Egyptian art: an encyclopedia of the major signs and symbols, a visual compendium of artistic motifs, a sourcebook of Egyptian religious beliefs and ideas.

The hieroglyphs are thematically organized and include: seated man · seated god · woman nursing child · wedjat eye · ear · breast · bull · cow · cat · lion · foreled of ox · heart · falcon · vulture · ibis · wing · feather · crocodile · frog · scarab beetle · bee · tree · palm branch · lotus · sky · sun · star · mountain · horizon · gateway · shrine · barque · brazier · dje column · fetish of Abydos · gold · ankh · fan · bow · knife · cartouche · Isis knot · board game · sistrum

Full reference section, including a complete list of hieroglyphic signs, a glossary, and a guide to further reading.” — back cover

“Ancient Egyptian art enjoys great popularity in the modern world and is appreciated by people from many walks of life, as well as by students of art history. Yet Egyptian artworks can often appear deceptively simple, and much can remain hidden from view without knowledge of the symbolic repertoire which was used by the ancient artists and craftsmen. Many Egyptian works of art were designed, in fact, to be ‘read’ symbolically and to provide an underlying message which was an essential part of their composition. Colors, materials, numbers, and especially the forms of the written Egyptian hieroglyphs were all part of this symbolic language which, if it is learned, can open up Egyptian art to an understanding for beyond what is seen by the untrained eye. This book has been designed with this goal in mind—to allow the non-specialist to ‘read’ the major hieroglyphics found in Egyptian painting and sculpture and to understand much of the symbolic content of Egyptian art which is usually only accessible to the trained Egyptologist.” — from the Preface

The Egyptian Heaven and Hell

The Egyptian Heaven and Hell by E A Wallis Budge, three volumes bound as one, from Dover, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

E A Wallis Budge The Egyptian Heaven and Hell from Dover

“Like the Book of the Dead, the ancient Egyptian document that contained specific instructions and guides for the behavior of the disembodied spirit in the Land of the Gods, the present work is crucial for understanding hieroglyphic Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife. It comprises complete hieroglyphic renderings of the texts of two ‘books of the underworld’—the Book Ȧm-Ṭuat and the Book of Gates—which provided the dead with a guide their souls would need to make the journey from this world to the abode of the blessed.

In these books both the living and the dead could learn not only the names, but also the forms, of every god, spirit, soul, specter, demon and monster they were likely to meet along the way. For modern readers, these ancient texts throw considerable light on the development of material and spiritual elements in Egyptian religion and on numerous primitive gods unknown outside these books.

Originally published in three volumes, the books are reprinted here as one work and include English translations and descriptions of all the hieroglyphic texts. Of particular interest to students of Egyptology, these extraordinary documents will also be of value to archeologists and anyone interested in the religions of ancient civilizations.” — back cover

Middle Egyptian Grammar

Middle Egyptian Grammar by James E Hoch, SSEA Publication XV, from Benben Publications, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

James E Hoch Middle Egyptian Grammar from Benben Publications

This was the required text for the correspondence / distance course offered, though I think they stopped offering it a few years ago, by the Oriental Institute in Chicago, which I signed up for way back in 1999. Though I didn’t manage to stick with it long, and have subsequently forgotten most of what little I learned, I recall the sense of sheer euphoria when I subsequently watched some documentary on Egypt and was able to read a short bit of a random passage from a column as it flashed by on screen …

“Translating Egyptian at the early stages is often more like puzzle solving than learning to speak a new language.”

“There is great for students in translating to ‘guess’ at the general meaning of a sentence. This is the worst possible approach, since Egyptian writers often said things that surprise us.”

“In any case, the student should expect to feel the language rather alien, and for the first few years one must constantly ask mechanical questions […] Often one must hold open two or three possible interpretations. With experience one can eliminate some possibilities, but building experience requires time. A good suggestion is to return to what one thinks is the right answer and then ask if there are any other possibilities. Sometimes one’s first inclination is far from the mark, and a good second consideration can lead to better interpretations.” — from the Preface

Hieroglyphs without Mystery

Hieroglyphs without Mystery: An Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Writing by Karl-Theodor Zauzich, translated and adapted by Ann Macy Roth, from University of Texas Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room. There is a more recently revised edition than the one in the collection.

Karl-Theodor Zauzic Ann Macy Roth Hieroglyphs without Mystery from University of Texas Press

“Marveling over the tomb treasures of Ramses II and Tutankhamen that have toured U.S. and European museums in recent years, visitors inevitably wonder what the mysterious hieroglyphs that cover their surfaces mean. Indeed, everyone who is fascinated by ancient Egypt sooner or later wishes for a Rosetta stone to unlock the secrets of hieroglyphic writing.

Hieroglyphs without Mystery provides the needed key. Written for ordinary people with no special language skills, the book quickly demonstrates that hieroglyphic writing can be read, once a few simple principles are understood. Zauzich explains the basic rules of the writing system and the grammar and then applies them to thirteen actual inscriptions taken from objects in European and Egyptian museums. By following his explanations and learning the most commonly used glyphs, readers can begin to decode hieroglyphs themselves and increase their enjoyment of both museum objects and ancient Egyptian sites.

Even for the armchair traveler, learning about hieroglyphs opens a sealed door into ancient Egyptian culture. In examining these inscriptions, readers will gain a better understanding of Egyptian art, politics, and religion, as well as language.” — back cover

How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs

How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Teach Yourself by Mark Collier and Bill Manley, illustrated by Richard Parkinson, from University of California Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room. There is a more recently revised edition than the one in the collection.

Mark Collier Bill Manley How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs from University of California Press

“Can you imagine yourself visiting a vast Egyptian monument and puzzling over the hieroglyphs inscribed on its walls? Have you stood awestruck before an ancient tablet in a museum case, wishing you could read the inscription for yourself?

With the help of this practical step-by-step guide, museum-goers, tourists, and armchair travelers can learn the language and culture of ancient Egypt.

Mark Collier and Bill Manley’s novel and straightforward approach is informed by years of experience teaching Egyptian hieroglyphs to non-specialists. They use clear and attractive drawing of actual inscriptions displayed in the British Museum and concentrate on the kinds of monuments readers might encounter in other museum collections—especially funerary inscriptions, coffins, and tomb scenes. Each chapter introduces a new aspect of hieroglyphic script or Middle Egyptian grammar and provides practical exercises to improve reading skills.

The supporting notes led insight into the concerns, rituals, and daily experiences of the authors of ancient texts. The material touches on topic ranging from the pharaonic administration to family life in ancient Egypt to the Egyptian way of death. With this book as our guide, you will be able to confidently translate hieroglyphs found on Egyptian art and artifacts in museums around the world.” — back cover