Egyptian Hieroglyphs for Beginners

CAS is excited to announce the latest in its ongoing series of completely free-to-access online seminars, designed to make the ancient world more accessible and to demonstrate that Classics and other Ancient Studies are doable by anyone and everyone, regardless of background or ability. Following our session on Hellenistic numismatics, we are closing out January 2021 with a seminar dedicated to Egyptian hieroglyphs!

While the magnificent remains of Pharaonic Egypt were well-known even in antiquity to Greeks, Romans and others alike, knowledge of the written script of this period, hieroglyphs, was eventually lost for centuries. It was only with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone that scholars were eventually able to decipher the language in the 18th Century. Despite its popular allure, however, the subject is not widely taught.

In this seminar, participants will be given the chance to get to grips with hieroglyphs in a fun and accessible way. Across three sessions, we will move from the very basics of how hieroglyphs function, through to forming sentences in the language. The final session will see participants engaging with authentic ancient texts, either a magical spell to chase demons away or a religious text known as the Creator God’s Apology.

The seminar will be led by Dr Angela McDonald, Senior Lecturer in Egyptology at University of Glasgow.

This set of sessions is targeted at absolute beginners, although all are welcome. We are particularly keen to hear from school pupils studying languages at Higher level and beyond (or equivalent) who might wish to take part. The seminar runs from 1.30-5pm on Saturday 30th January:

1.30pm-2.30pm  SESSION ONE: The Basics and beyond

Aimed at complete beginners, this session introduces the hieroglyphic script, the three functions of hieroglyphic signs, how words are formed and read, and introduces nouns and noun phrases.

2.30-2.40pm Break

2.40-3.40pm   SESSION TWO: People in action

This session focuses on the verbal system, introducing the key forms and how they’re negated, and provides the opportunity to practice reading sentences and short texts.

3.40-3.50pm Break

3.50-5pm   SESSION THREE: Reading practice in hieroglyphs

This session begins with a brief orientation before offering participants the choice of two breakout rooms with guided translation through different types of text:

  1. Medico-magical text – Spell to chase away night demons
  2. Religious text – the Creator God’s Apology

As with all CAS Online Seminars, these sessions are free to attend. They will all take place over Zoom. To register on the seminar, please contact Dr Alex Imrie (A.Imrie@ed.ac.uk). PLEASE NOTE: In your email, please specify which text you think you would like to study in Session 3.