Read And Write Like An Egyptian


Over 5000 years ago, ancient Egyptians wrote using a picture writing called hieroglyphics. The writers were called scribes. Not everyone had this training not even the Pharaoh and his family. There was a problem because Egyptians wrote down everything, and hieroglyphs were beautiful, but time consuming! Hieroglyphics The scribes needed a faster way to write. They created the first shorthand called Demotic script. The new scribes used that exclusively and never learned the ancient hieroglyphs. They wrote faster and even  created some new scripts.Hieroglyphs11

Hundreds of years passed and archaeologists discovered beautiful hieroglyphic writing on ancient walls of tombs and pyramids in Egypt. But there was a problem. Though they knew there was a story told there on the wall, and they could read Demotic Script, there was not one person on the face of the earth who could read ancient Egyptian!   This mystery wasn’t solved until about 200 years ago, when a huge black stone was found in Egypt. The stone had the same short story chiseled  into it, in three languages, Greek, Demotic and ancient hieroglyphs. The scientists  could read the first two and noticed it was the same story, so they came to the conclusion that the hieroglyphs was also the same story. With their knowledge of Greek and Demotic, and the gift of some ancient Egyptian, the linguists were able to finally begin to read and understand hieroglyphs.Rosetta_stone_close

The very famous stone was named the Rosetta Stone. Today it is on display in the famous British Museum in London.  When we were there, it was possible to touch the stone and feel the excitement of this discovery many years ago. It is displayed in a glass case currently.

I decided to dust off my teacher hat this morning and tell you about hieroglyphs!  It was a system of picture writing. The first were pictographs or pictures of the meaning. A sun was a sun.  Later the the meaning could represent ideas and or the literal meaning. An example is  the pictures could be the sun or it could mean the  daytime.  Then  the hieroglyphs had became ideograms. Finally, the pictures were  not only the appearance of an object,  or related to ideas, but also the sound of a spoken word used to describe an object. Now a sun could be “son” or the beginning of Sun-day. So each picture took on a  unique sound to form thoughts and ideas. There are no vowels in hieroglyphs.  With the combination of sound signs, pictographs and ideograms, no wonder it was so difficult to decipher hieroglyphs!  Here is a chart which may make this clearer.


images (51)

Ready to translate?  To read the hieroglyphs you need to know that it is read from right to left, but sometimes left to right or in columns. How is a reader to know? You read towards the faces.

I am going to include the link to the “translator” which my students loved. You type in your name and then the translator will produce your name in hieroglyphs!  Or you can first try to write your name and check it with the translator. You can send me a postcard.

Namaste. . . . .T I E

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
This entry was posted in Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Read And Write Like An Egyptian

  1. Wow am really impress by this…. The Egyptians sure do know how to keep records.


  2. Raunak says:

    What a wonderful post Anne! Just the kind of post that one looks forward to at the end of a tiring day. Sometimes I wish I could create a new language and script. Wouldn’t that be fun!
    Tried sending you a postcard…unfortunately problems with NG server wouldn’t let that happen.

    Great to have connected with you on WP.


    • annetbell says:

      Oh Ranuak, what a wonderful , encouraging response. I am so glad that you enjoyed my very little lesson on hieroglyphs! So glad to have you reading and responding!
      Namaste. . .Anne


  3. Wow, Anne, you must be an amazing teacher! I loved reading this very interesting and informative explanation on the ancient and to me, rather mysterious, language of the Egyptians! A great read…I’m going to spread it around:)


    • annetbell says:

      I loved teaching and miss it! I am thrilled to have the blogging and feeling like I have something to contribute. I retired so that I could go to India. My husband knew I would love it and you know I did! thanks for your kind words about my teaching. I loved teaching the bright students who often were bored. That material I used with 8-9 year olds! Namaste. . .. Anne


  4. Great post, I visited Egypt earlier this year, would have been a lot of fun to to try and read a few hieroglyphs on the spot!


  5. Very interesting to learn more about the hieroglyphs, Anne, thank you so much.


  6. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.


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  8. 90vinitablog says:

    Such an informative post….I thoroughly enjoyed while reading it. Thanks for sharing 🙂


  9. LAMarcom says:

    Given the title of my blog, you’d think I could read hieroglyphics. I used a translator app I found to print ‘Texas’ in hieroglyphics, but I could not make it look right on my banner, so I put that project on the back burner. I have spent a lot of time in Egypt, and got one of those…the word escapes me…oh yeah: ‘Cartouche’ (I just cheated with Google) with your name in hieroglyphics. It has long since been lost. Damn shame too, as it was 24 ct. gold.

    I have also seen the Rosetta Stone in London, but yeah, it was ‘under glass’ when I was there: 2006, as I recall.

    Great post.,
    Loved it.
    Love everything ancient Egyptian actually.
    And thank you for visiting my blog site.


    • annetbell says:

      Oh I love Egypt, as well, though we only were there for that one 10 day visit. Husband is an architect and said he had wanted to see the pyramids for his whole life but after the first 20 minutes, he couldn’t wait to live. I loved the chaos and intensity of the people. . . he didn’t! I am curious if your visits and interests are for business or personal.
      Oh I know about the translator and had my classes “write like an Egyptian! ” Have a glorious Sunday! .


      • LAMarcom says:

        As you may (or may not) know: I lived and worked in Israeli Occupied Egypt for three years (Sinai). I had many occasions to visit Cairo and I knew many Egyptians. Truth: I was partial to the Egyptians rather than the Israelis, but I could “relate” more to the Israelis. Just a simple matter of culture, not manners. Israelis had none. Egyptians had much. Just my two cents.


      • annetbell says:

        We had been in Rome for 6 months, then traveled around the Mediterranean for 2 months before going home. We saw Rome, Greece, :Yugoslavia, Egypt, and then Spain and had plans to take the bus through the Sinai to Jerusalem, but Israel invaded Lebanon during the time we were in Egypt and we had our children and we were just afraid of what was going to escalate. We have never gotten back to Israel which is sad for me. So many sites Jewish, Muslim as well as Christian to see! When we were in Cairo , there were demonstrations against the cost of bread which had gone up to a penny from half a penny.

        This was my first developing country and I cried most of the time. We walked the streets which was very unusual and weren’t on a AC bus, so we got lots of attenuation plus the blond hair and magical blue eyes. I found the people warm and gracious…we were invited into people’s homes and we went for tea and such. I have some more posts on Egypt….I remember 6/30 during the demonstration. I feel so sorry for those people just wanting freedom!


  10. LAMarcom says:

    I certainly can relate. I have spent a great deal of my life in the Middle East: Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan. UAE. Also North Africa and the Far East.
    I am going back soon. (I am a career Expat)
    Just not sure where.


  11. LAMarcom says:

    I was in Amman for six months, but my work schedule kept me 7 days a week. I did not have an opportunity to get to Petra. I regret that.


  12. pagemcbrier says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post. I’m an author of books for young readers and also work in classrooms as a teaching artist, integrating all of the arts into the curriculum. My newest middle grade time travel novel, Abracadabra Tut, is set in ancient Egypt, and I would like to use your hieroglyph chart and this blog information in my classroom workshops. Thanks! Page


    • annetbell says:

      Well, I am delighted to hear from you. The hieroglyph chart was from Google Images. You might need to get someone else’s permission but you have my permission to use the blog. I am honored. I loved teaching Egypt in 6th grade especially after we visited that magical country. I also used Ancient Civilizations with enrichment class for 3rd graders. . . .They loved it. My husband is a professor and he says if you are not selling the image in a published book, but using it in class with students, there should be no problem using the chart! Good luck! Anne


  13. Dove says:

    Can you please change the typos of “Demonic” text to Demotic? Thank you.


  14. annetbell says:

    Reblogged this on TalesAlongTheWay and commented:

    I thought this reblog might be fun today. If you have have older elementary students have them write their names!


  15. Pingback: The Booketry » Read And Write Like An Egyptian

  16. Love this! Wish I were still teaching so we could play around with this, go to the link, write our names, etc. Thanks for sharing!


  17. taphian says:

    really interesting story


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