Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs

From the series: Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Ancient Egyptian civilization is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating chapters in human history. While remnants of the culture like temples, obelisks, and sarcophagi continue to mystify us, you can unlock their true meaning if you know how to read hieroglyphs.

image of scroll with Egyptian hieroglyphs

Consider this ancient Egyptian sentence:

image of Egyptian hieroglyphs

Almost everyone guesses that the sentence concerns birds and going somewhere, which is reasonable given that we see birds, feet, and so on.

However, if you made that guess, you’re making the same “Big Mistake” that scholars trying to decipher the inscription on the Rosetta Stone made: assuming that the hieroglyphs are completely ideographic, that is, picture writing.

It seems as if the depiction of a bird would mean that the text is related to birds. But in fact, this sentence translates to “The sun is shining in the sky.” In this lecture, we’ll learn why that’s true.

Below, you can watch lecture two from the series Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs taught by Professor Bob Brier. In it, you will learn how to write and position each hieroglyph, including two hieroglyphs for which English doesn’t have a letter. You’ll even learn to transcribe your name from English to ancient Egyptian!

From the Lecture Series Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs
Taught by Professor Bob Brier, Ph.D.