- as in apple - picture of an eagle.
B - as in 'bat'
picture of a foot.
W or O -Two
sounds - 'W' as in 'won' or 'OO' as in 'boot' - picture of a chick.
KH - ch as in
'loch' - picture - of a placenta.
K - as in
'kitten' - picture of a basket.
N - as in 'no' -
picture of water.
H - as in 'ha' picture
of a twist of flax.
I - ee as in feet -
picture of a reed flower.
in 'gold' - picture of a stand.
P - as in 'puppy'
picture of a mat.
F - as in 'fan' picture
- horned snake.
TH - picture of rope.
M - as in 'mum' -
picture of an owl.
S - as in 'sit' -
picture of a fold of cloth.
J - dj as in 'edge' -
picture of a snake.
Y - as in
'baby' - picture of two reed flowers.
SH - as in shop -
picture of a pool.
D - as in 'dirt'
picture of a hand.
Q - as in 'quick'
picture of a hill or slope.
R - as in 'rat' picture
of a mouth.
T - as in 'two' picture
of a loaf.
L - picture of a lion.
In AD 391 the Byzantine Emperor
Theodosius I closed all pagan temples throughout the empire. This
action terminated a four thousand year old tradition and the message
of the ancient Egyptian language was lost for 1500 years. It was not
until the discovery of the Rosetta stone and the work of Jean-Francois
Champollion (1790-1832) that the Ancient Egyptians awoke from their
long slumber. Today, by virtue of the vast quantity of their
literature, we know more about Egyptian society than most other
The script was developed about four
thousand years before Christ and there was also a decimal system of
numeration up to a million. Unlike other cultures the early picture
forms were never discarded or simplified probably because they are so
very lovely to look at. Hieroglyphs were called by the Egyptians
"the words of God" and were used mainly by the priests.
These painstakingly drawn symbols were great for decorating the walls
of temples but for conducting day to day business there was another
script, known as hieratic This was a handwriting in which the picture
signs were abbreviated to the point of abstraction
are written in rows or columns and can be read from left to right or
from right to left. You can distinguish the direction in which the
text is to be read because the human or animal figures always face
towards the beginning of the line. Also the upper symbols are read
signs are divided into four categories:
1. Alphabetic signs represent a single sound. Unfortunately the
Egyptians took most vowels for granted and did not represent them. So
we may never know how the words were formed. (Click
the images, above, to download Gifs or if your browser does not
support image maps use the table - left)
Syllabic signs represent a combination of two or three
consonants. (Click the images - right,
to download Gifs or if your browser does not support image
maps use the table - below)
3. Word-signs are pictures
of objects used as the words for those objects. they are
followed by an upright stroke, to indicate that the word is
complete in one sign.
4. A determinative
is a picture of an object which helps the reader. For
example; if a word expressed an abstract idea, a picture of
a roll of papyrus tied up and sealed was included to show
that the meaning of the word could be expressed in writing
although not pictorially.
Some Syllabic Signs
A big and sincere thank
Ancient Egypt page for their contributions to this site and your