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
“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
“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