Thursday, December 31, 2009

Egypt Day 6 Hieroglyphics

Tennis, then getting to grips with hieroglyphics. Trips to temples and tombs are always more interesting when you can read the cartouches and spot some simple word and features. Hieroglypics means ‘writing of the gods’ and was written on papyrus and stone for four thousand years, finally coming to and end with a late Roman inscription on the temple at Philae. The Rosetta stone, discovered in 1799, then deciphered by Champillon in 1827, has unleashed a wealth of knowledge about ancient Egypt.

Start with identifying the direction of writing, usually right to left into the faces of the animal signs. then cartouches, with the names of the Pharaohs. You soon get to spot the Rameses and Amenhoteps, even Cleopatra and Alexander. The numbers are straightforward, and easy to spot at Karnac and Medinet Habu. Then the determinatives next as they unlock the general meaning of the words, such as those for Gods, officials, town, land, writing etc.. Plurals with their three vertical lines and so on. How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphics by Mark Collier, is a pretty good introduction. It’s a fantastic feeling to understand just a name or number as even in ancient times less than one percent could read this language and you’ll know more than anyone did for almost twomthousand years before 1827!

Our last night so we went into town by boat, had a beer by the side of the Nile, saw Sammy, the gay waiter, then off into town for some shopping. There are several good book shops and plenty of scarfs, spices and te usual stuff in the souks. Viagra seems to be on sale in every pharmacy – that’s new. The over on the local ferry for another excellent meal at Tutankamuns.