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Hieroglyphic Egyptian

Language and Literature in the Middle Kingdom


Second Edition

Daniel L. Selden

PARERGON

Senusret III wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt


and the
White Crown of Upper Egypt

Instructions of8wA-1tj
Daniel L. Selden 2015
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Parergon

G. B. Piranesi, Diversi maniere d'adornare i cammini (1769)


Parergon: Something subordinate or accessory to the main subject. Hence more generally: ornamental addition, embellishment OED

Even what we call accessories (parerga), i.e., those things that do not belong to a complete presentation of the subject
internally as constitutive parts, but only externally as additions that augment the satisfaction of taste [Geschmack], do so
only by their form; as, for example, the borders of pictures, or the vestments on statues, or the porticos around palatial
buildings. But if the accessory [Zierat] does not itself enter into the composition of the beautiful form, it is, like gilded frames,
affixed only to win approval for the painting through its charm [Reiz]; it is then called decoration [Schmuck], which
introduces a rupture [Abbruch] with authentic beauty.
I. Kant, Kritik der Urteilskraft, Analytik des Schnen 14
The violence of the framing multiplies. It begins by enclosing the theory of the aesthetic in a theory of the beautiful, the
latter in a theory of taste, and the theory of taste in a theory of judgment. These are decisions that could be called
external: the delimitation has enormous consequences, but at this price a certain internal coherence can be saved. The
same does not apply for another gesture of framing which, by introducing the border, does violence to the inside of the
system and twists its proper articulations out of shape. This must therefore be the gesture of primary interest to us if we are
seeking a rigorous grasp of the matter.
J. Derrida, Parergon, La vrit en peinture, p. 81

PARERGON

Detail of Front side panel of outer coffin of Djehutynakht


Middle Kingdom Late Dynasty 11 Early Dynasty 12, 2010 1961 BCE
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Ruins
Egyptology,SayyidQub,andtheLogicoftheLuxorMassacre

Mirmeansadividinglinebetweentwothings.
IbnQutaybahadDnawar

TodaythedisciplineofEgyptologythrivesinterstitially,fillingthelacunaeinadialogue
betweenthedeaf.TheincreasinglyvirulentassaultsontheantiquitiesofEgypt,nowcarriedout
with accelerating frequency on ancient artifacts across the Middle Eastfrom Afghanistan to
Egyptprovidestheoccasionforamorehistoricalandlessfanaticalresponsetothisrecurring
patternofattack.Here,then,aretwonarrativesthatspeakpastoneanotheracrossthemillenni
umandhalfthatseparatesthehistoricalconstellationoftheirrespectivespeechgenresthequo
tidian seriality of late twentiethcentury American news coverage and the poetic inimitability
(i`jz)oftheGloriousQurn:

Rajab 17, 1418 AH: Six gunmen from the Vanguards of Conquest (Tali` alFat), an
organizationofantigovernmentactivists,massacredsixtytwotouristsatDeirelBari,
anarchaeologicalsiteandmajortouristattractionacrosstheNileRiverfromLuxor,Egypt
(Fig.1).Armedwithautomaticfirearmsandknives,thesixassailantsweredisguisedas
membersofthesecurityforces.TheydescendedonthemortuaryTempleofHatshepsut
ataround8:45AMandkilledtwoarmedguardsatthesite.Withthetouriststrapped
insidethetemple,thekillingwentonsystematicallyforfortyfiveminutes,duringwhich
timemanyofthebodies,especiallythoseofwomen,weremutilatedwithmachetes.They
usedbothgunsandbutcherknives.AnotepraisingIslmwasfoundinsideoneofthe
disemboweledtourists.1

InthenameofGod,themerciful,thecompassionate:Godpromisedtothosewhobelieve
anddodeedsofrighteousnessthattheywillhaveforgivenessandagreatreward.But
those who disbelieve and deny our signs (yt)these are the companions of Hellfire
[Qurn5:910].Fir`awn,Hmnandtheirforcesstoodamongthecorrupt.SoFir`awn
said,Council,Iknowofnogodforyouapartfromme.Hmn,kindleafireformeover
theclayandbuildmeatoweringedifice(ar)sothatImayclimbtothegodofMsa(ilahi
Msa),forIconsiderhimtobealiar[Q28:38].SowebarredFir`awnfromthepathand
reducedhisworkstorubble(tabb)[Q40:37].Wemadethemathingofthepastandan
exemplar(mathl)forpeopleofthefuture[Q43:56].2
Cf.70DieinanAttackatanEgyptianTemple,TheNewYorkTimes:http://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/
18/world/70dieinattackategypttemple.html.Retrieved82714.Wikipedia:s.v.LuxorMassacre.

CompareT.L.Dumn,Telefear:WatchingWarNewsinB.Masumi,ThePoliticsofEverydayFear.Min
neapolis,1993:30722,withS.Vasalou,TheMiraculousEloquenceoftheQuran:GeneralTrajectories
andIndividualApproaches,JournalofQuranicStudies4.2(2002),2353.

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Fig.1.
DeirelBar
MortuaryTempleofHatshepsut
Thebes
SiteoftheLuxorMassacre

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ThestoryofFir`awnandHmn,whosedetailsfigureremainscatteredoverseveralsuwar[sing.
srah]oftheQurn,constitutesoneoftheprincipalprooftextsthatjustifyforsomeMuslims,
atleast,ifnotnecessarilythemajoritythemassacreat9sr-Dsr.w(M.Eg.:HolyofHolies)as
somethingmorethanjustanotherrandomterroristattack.TheQurnictalecentersonadouble
typologicaldisplacement,syncretizingvariousversionsofGenesis,Exodus,andEstherthatcir
culated throughout the Late Antique world not only in Arabic, but also in Hebrew, Aramaic,
Ge`ez,Prsg,andGreekwhichmakesthisaparticularlyrich,aswellascomplex,instanceof
theliteraryphenomenonthatGezaVermeshastermedrewrittenBible.

In the first place, the Qurn relocates the story of the Tower of Babel from Shin`r
(Babylonia)toMir(Egypt).HereFir`awnwhichsometimesfiguresasatitle,atothersacom
positefigurethatcondensesallthekingsofEgyptintoonehashisvizierHmnconstructfor
himaar()madeoutofbricks(laterIslmiccommentatorsglossthisasatower[mijdal]),
whichcollapsesalmostassoonasitisbuilt:Godstruckatthefoundationsoftheirbuildingand,
fromabove,therooffelldownuponthemandwhencethisdoomhadovercomethem,theyknew
not[Q16:23].LateantiqueJewishcommentaryontheTowerofBabel,aswellasrabbinicdis
cussionsofPharaohsarchitecturalambitions,providethebackgroundthatfacilitatedthefusion
ofthesetwoepisodesintheQurn:
Nimrd stood first among the leaders of the corrupt, whose iniquity and godlessness
cametoacimaxinthebuildingoftheTowerofBabel.Hiscouncilorshadproposedthe
planoferectingthetowerandNimrdagreedtoexecutethisplanintheplainofShin`r.
ThisenterprisewasanoutrightrebellionagainstGod,withthreesortsrebelsamongthe
builders.Thefirstpartysaid:LetusascendtoheavenandwagewarfareagainstHim.
Thesecondpartysaid:Letusascendtoheaven,setupidols,andpayworshiptothem
there.Andthethirdpartysaid:LetusascendtoheavenanddestroyHimwithour
bowsandarrows.Theyneverslackenedintheirwork,andfromthedizzyingheight
theyconstantlyshotarrowstowardheavenwhich,returning,appearedtobecoveredwith
blood.Theywerethusfortifiedintheirdelusionandcried,Wehaveslainallwhoarein
heaven.ThereuponGodturnedtotheseventyangelswhoencompasshisthroneand
said,Come,letusgodownandthereconfoundtheirlanguagethattheymaynotunder
standoneanothersspeech.Soithappenedandfromthatmomentnooneknewwhat
theothersaid.Asfortheunfinishedtower,apartsankintotheearthandanotherpart
was consumed by fire. Only one third of it remained standing: whoever passes by it
forgetsallthatheknows.3

ThecouncilorsandeldersofEgyptcametoPharaohandsaid,See,thepeopleofthechil
drenofIsraelhavebecomestrongerandmightierthanwe.Therefore,giveuscouncilas
to what to do with them so that we can gradually destroy them, lest they become too
numerousinourland.Pharaohrespondedtotheeldersasfollows:Thisistheplanthat
IadviseregardingthechildrenofIsraelfromwhichIwillnotwaver.PitomandRa`amss

L.Ginzberg,TheLegendoftheJews,trans.H.Szold,7vols.(Baltimore,1998):1:177,17980;condensed.

PARERGON

arecitiesnotfortifiedforbattle.Thus,itisinourinteresttoarmthem.Sogo,dealcun
ninglywiththechildrenofIsrael.ProclaiminEgyptandGoshen:Thekinghascom
mandedustobuildPitomandRa`amssandtofortifythemforbattle.Thosewhoagree
toconstructwithusshallhavetheirpaygiventothemdailyattheKingsorder.Sothe
elders,thecouncilors,andthewholeofEgyptdidaccordingtothewordwhilethechil
drenofIsraelcontinuedtowork,receivingtheirdailywagesasusual,sincesomeEgyp
tianswerestilllaboringwiththem.Afteratime,however,alltheEgyptianshadwith
drawnand,turningagainstthem,theybecameofficersandtaskmastersoverIsrael.Then
they refrained from giving them their wages. By these and other ruses, the Egyptians
succeededinovermasteringtheIsraelites,andoncetheyhadthemintheirpower,they
treatedthemwithundisguisedbrutality.Intheend,thebuildingofPitomandRa`amss
turnedouttobeofnoadvantagetotheEgyptianseither,forscarcelywerethestructures
completedwhentheycollapsedorwereswallowedwholebytheearth.4

ThelateRabbinicMidrashonExodus([ 11th12thcenturyCE])addsthefollowingde
tails:PitomandRa`amss.RavandShmul.ThefirstsaidthatPitomwasthecitysrealname
and the reason why it was called Ra`amss was because each portion as it was built crashed
(mitross).TheothermaintainedthatitsrealnamewasRa`amss,andthereasonthatitwascalled
Pitomwasbecausethemouthofthedeep(pithm)swallowedthemonebyone(1.10).
Early Muslim commentators recognized that the Qurn conspicuously conflates what
boththeHebrewBibleandtheRabbinictraditionhadconsideredtwodistinctandlargelyunre
latedtales.Effectively,acrossseveralofitssuwar,theQurnfoldsthestoryofNimrdsidolatry
intoFir`awnsconstructionofwhattheQurnnolongerspecifiesasseveralcitiesbutratherasa
singlear,thatis,amonumentaledifice.Theprincipalpointoftangency,then,thatallowsthe
firsttaletostandinforthesecondisthethemeofconstructioncoupledwithcollapse:bothNim
rdstowerandFir`awnsarfall,onlytosinkpartially,atleastintotheground.Bycontrast,
mostsecularEuropeanscholars,whoingeneralrejecttherevelatorynatureoftheQurn,con
tinuetocreditthissortofnarrativebunglingtoMuammadwhooutofhissupposedignorance
failedtokeephisBiblestoriesstraight.SoLudovicoMarracci,ConfessortoPopeInnocentXI
(161189CE),ProfessorofArabicatLaSapienza,Rome,andthefirsttotranslatetheentireQurn
intoLatin,commentsonthesepassages:

MahumethasmixedupSacredStories.HemaintainedthatPharaohorderedtheconstruc
tionofaloftytowerfromthetopofwhichhecouldseetheGodofMoseswhich,ifaccurate
wouldbeinferiortohim.ThereisnodoubtthatMahumetborrowedthestoryofthis
towerfromthestoryoftheTowerofBabel.ItiscertainthatintheSacredScripturesthere
isnosuchstorythatisrelatedtoPharaoh.5

Ibid.2:24649;condensed.TargumNeofitiItoExodusidentifiesthetwocitiesatasTanisandPelusion.

L.Marracci,AlcoranitextusuniversusexcorrectioribusArabumexemplaribus.Padua,1698:526n.1.For
morerecentaccounting,seehttp://www.1000mistakes.com/1000mistakes;retrieved9114.
5

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WhatescapesMarraccihere,aswellasthelonglineofWesterncriticswhohavefollowedinhis
wake, is that narrative conflations of this type constitute one of the hallmarks of late antique
LevantineMediterraneanlettersandassuchconstitutepartofthehorizonofexpectationfor
thereceptionoftheQurn.Wherethemiracle(mu`jazah)oftheQurnlies,then,isprecisely
here:inthedeftnesswithwhicheachsrahweavesitssourcematerialstogether,aswellasinthe
economyofitsliterary,philosophical,andreligiousallusions,allofwhicheachsrahrecastsinto
internallyrhymedprose(saj`),asforexampleinthecreed:lilhaillllh(Thereisnogod
butGod).ThisconstitutesthecontextintowhichtheQurnintroducestherhetoricofitsown
inimitability:Ifyoudoubtanypartofwhatwehavegivenfromonhigh,stepbystep,uponour
servant,thenproduceasrahofsimilarmerit,andcalluponanyoneelsebutGodtobearwitness
foryouifwhatyousayistrue![Q2:23].TheQurnatnopointdeniesitsconnectionstoother
literaturesoftheLateAntique,suchastheAlexanderRomanceorthetaleoftheSevenSleepers:
itonlyclaimstohavenorivals.

ThesecondtalethattheQurnlinkstothestoryofFir`awncomesfromtheBookofEstr
whichinLateAntiquitycirculatedinvariousdifferentversions:theHebrewmgillh(scroll),
multiple(re)compositionsinGreek,plusatleasttwoAramaictargumimtosaynothingofits
translationintoCoptic,Syriac,Latin,Ge`ez,andArabic.JewishandChristiantraditionbothhold
that Nimrd oversaw the building of the Tower at Babel, but in the Qurnwhich never
mentionsNimrditisHmnwhomFir`awncallsupontobuildhisar.TheQurnplucks
the name of Fir`awns architect directly out of Estr, in which Hmn figures as the vizier to
Aawero,theking(melek)ofIran.NotonlydoesHmnusehisofficetopersecutethe
Persian Jews: eventually, he persuades the king to exterminate all Israelites living within the
boundsofhisdomainwhich,accordingtotheHebrewBible,stretchedfromIndiatoEthiopia
[Est.1:1].NowEstrAawerosqueenwasunbeknownsttohimherselfaJewess,afact
thatsherevealstothekingonlyattheeleventhhour,justintimetofoilHmnsplot.Estr
therebysavesGodsholypeople(`amqd),whileAawerohasHmnhungfortreason.
InRabbinicliterature,therefore,Hmnfiguresasthearchetypaladversaryofthechildrenof
Israel.IntheTalmudBavli,forexample,RavMatnaelicitsagraphicpunthatliesconcealedin
theHebrewtext:WhereisthereareferencetoHmnintheTrh?Isitfromthetree...?
() [bullin139b].MatnaalludesheretothepassageinGenesiswhereYahwehquestions
Adamastowhetherhetastedthefruitoftheforbiddentree[Gen.3:11].Thethreeconsonants
thatmakeupHmnsname(hmn: ) alsooccurhereinpreciselythissameorder,toformthe
question, albeit based on different morphology and syntax: Is it from? () . According to
Matna,thisimplicitlyassociatesAawerosgenocidalvizierwithmansoriginaltransgression
againstGod,wherethetreealsoservestoforeshadowHmnsdeath.SimilarlyTractateSota
9blikensHmntotheserpentthattemptedEve,whileRavaremarksatbMgillh13b:Noone
knewevilspeech(lnr`h)betterthanHmn.
ByassociatingFir`awndirectlywithHmn,then,theQurnpointsoutthatthesetwo
archadversariesoftheJewsremainessentiallycompacttwomiscreantswiththesameagenda:
theybothconspiretoannihilatethechildrenofIsrael(BanIsrl),towhichtheMuslimcom
munity(ummah)hasnowbecometheappointedheir.JustastheQurnrecalls,OChildrenof
Israel, remember the favor that I bestowed upon you and that I preferred you over all other
worlds[Q2:47],soitaddressesthefollowersofMuammad:Youarethebestofthenations
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raisedupformen;youenjoinwhatisrightandforbidwhatiswrong[Q3:110].Thearthat
Fir`awnhasHmnbuild,then,functionsasanallegoryofthosewhohaveevokedGodsanger
andgoneastray[Q1:7]:justasintheClassicalEgyptianexpressionoAj sAtallbacked(i.e.,
arrogant),soheightherebecomesametaphorforpride.Thus,Fir`awnstoweraimsnotonlyto
showtheEgyptiansthatheisasloftyasthegodofMsa,butalsothattheyneitherhavenor
needanygod(s)otherthanhimself.SotheworldhistorianAbJa`afarMuammadb.Jarral
abar(224310AH)recordsthefollowingexchangeinhisTrkhalrusulwalmulk:Gabriel
said:OMuammad!IhavenotloathedanycreatureasmuchasIhaveloathedtwomen:One
ofthemwasajinnnamedIbls,whenherefusedtobowdowntoAdam;andtheotherisFir`awn,
whenhesaid:Iamyourhighestlord[481].ThefinalquotationherecomesfromtheMakkan
SratulNzi`t[79:1626]:

His Lord called to [Msa] in the sacred valley of uwa: Go to Fir`awn, for he has in
rebellionrisenhigh(aa),andsaytohim:Wouldyoupurifyyourselfandletmeguide
youtoyourLordsothatyoushouldfearHim?Then[Msa]showed[Fir`awn]theGreat
Sign,butFir`awndeniedanddisobeyed,andturnedhisbackhastily.Thenhesummoned
hispeopleandproclaimed:Iamyourhighestlord.SoGodseizedhim[andmadehim]
anexamplebothlastandfirst.Indeed,herewefindaninstructivelesson(`abra).

FromtheperspectiveoftheQurn,then,theruinsofPharaonicEgyptserveaprecisehistorical
and religious function. They neither constitute the cinders and sepulture that Joachim du
BellaymournsinhisAntiquitezdeRome(1558),nordotheyawakenthesublimeaswasthecase
forC.F.Volney,contemplatingtheruinsofPalmyra,inhismediationLesruines(1791):

Hail,solitaryruins,yousacredtombs,andsilentwalls!ItisyouthatIinvoke,toyouthat
Iaddressmyprayer.Yes!Althoughyouraspectaverts,withsecretterror,thecommon
gaze(lesregardsduvulgaire),itexcitesinmyheartthecharmofathousandsentimentsand
thoughts.Whatusefullessons!whataffectingandprofoundreflectionsyousuggestto
himwhoknowshowtoconsultyou.6

GiventheQurnscharacterizationofFir`awnandthemotivesthatitattributestohimforenga
gingHmntobuildhistower,Islmicscriptureunderstandablydisplaysnonostalgiaforthe
ruins of the Pharaonic past. Rather, as visible signs of the benighted age before Islm, the
shatteredar,andbyextensionallthefragmentsofFir`awnsbuildingprojects,notonlystand
aswitnesstothehistoricaltruthoftheQurn.TheyservebothasasignofGodsauthorityas
lord of the worlds . . . and master of the dayof doom [Q 1:2 and4], as well as an example
(mathl)ofthefatethatawaitsmiscreantsthecompanionsofHellfirewhodisobeyHispro
phets(anbiy)anddenyHismessengers(rusul)whointhiscasewasMsa,theprophetwhom
GodsentspecificallytotheBanIsrl.

WhatretainsitsimportanceforIslm,then,aretheEgyptianruinsintheirstateofruin,
monumentalstructuresthatGodpurposelydestroyedinorderbothtocreateanenduringremin
C.F.Volney,Oeuvres,2vols.(Paris:Fayard,n.d.):1:169.

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derandtosetanexampleformankindtocome.Accordingtoadth,moreover,Muammadtook
thetroubletovisitMemphiswhere,withasingledamnatoryglance,heshatteredintopiecesall
theidolsthatstillremained.Itisonlyintheirfracture,then,thatthemonuments(aru)ofMir
signify within Islmic thought. Later Muslim chroniclers, accepting Muammads charge to
travelthroughtheearthandfindouttheconsequencesofthosewhodeniedthetruth(Q30:42),
filledinthedetailsofFir`awnsfallandsettheminworldhistoricalperspective:chronologies,
kinglists,topographieswereallworkedout,alongwithreconstructionsofthesocial,religious,
andpoliticalpracticesoftheperiod.WhatwasatstakeinPharaonichistory,however,wasas
alabarstressednotsimplythefatesofindividualrecreantsoranyparticularhereticalbelief,
butratherawholewayoflife,anentiresystemofideas,values,andtraditions,thatstoodfunda
mentally opposed to the world order willed by God. Though this antagonism and resistance
informedalmosteveryaspectofancientEgyptianculture,itwasmostevidentinthelargescale
buildingprojects,which,followingupthestatementsoftheQurn,alabarandhissuccessors
understoodtobethematerialembodimentoftheperversityoftheregime.Ananecdoterelated
byMuammadb.`AbdullhalKis`(c.490AH)tells,inanemblematicfashion,ofoneEgyptian
kingwhobuiltpalaceafterpalacespecificallyinordertoeludeavoicethaturgedhimtoack
nowledgeandsubmittoGod:

Fir`awnsawamancomingoutofthewallsofhispalacebitinghisnailsandsaying,O
AccursedOne,doyouthinkthatyourLordisblindtoallyourevildeeds...?Fir`awn
wasterrifiedandmovedtoanotherpalace,butthesamemancametohimandsaid,O
AccursedOne,youwillbedestroyedtotheendoftimeifyoudonotbelieveinGod!So
Fir`awnmovedtoyetanotherpalace.Hecontinuedtomovefromonepalacetoanother
untilhehadbuiltfortypalaces,butalwayshesawtheman.Thelasthebuiltonamagni
ficentscaleandcalleditHeliopolisonaccountofitsbeauty.7

Thisdirectlinkbetweenarchitectureandapostasyfounditsmostimmediateexpressioninthe
reliefsandinscriptionsthatcoveredthewallsofFir`awnstemples.Farfromconstitutingarepo
sitory of ancient wisdom, as Athanasius Kirchner, for example proposed, Muslim historians
identifiedthesecarvingsastalismansandtextsintendedforprofanatoryuse.Somestructures
thescholarsinterpretedaslargealchemicallaboratoriesrepletewithchambersforpulverizing,
ponding,condensing,separating,filtering,etc.,8whileatothersitesdiscretestatuesorimages
were credited with thaumaturgic powers. An oft mentioned magical relief from the reign of
QueenDalkahisdescribedbyAbalasan`Alibnalusaynibn`AlalMas`d(282345
AH)asfollows:

Duringherthirtyyearrule,thequeenendowedEgyptwithtemplesandstatues,andshe
contrivedmagicaldevices.Inthetemples,sheplacedimagesofallpeopleswhomight
attackEgyptoneveryside,togetherwithpicturesoftheirsteeds,betheyhorsesorcamels.
Muammadibn`AbdAllhalKis`,TalesoftheProphets,trans.W.Thackston,Jr.(Boston,1978),21213.

IbnWafShh,AccountofEgypt,citedbyTaqlDnalMaqrz,Descriptiontopographiqueethistoriquede
lEgypte,trans.U.BouriantandP.Casanova,4vols.(Paris,18951920),1:103.
8

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ShealsohaddepictedtherethepeoplesofSyriaandtheMaribwhomightinvadethe
country by sea. Into these temples, which were remarkable for their solidity and di
mensions, she gathered all the secrets of nature, the properties inherent in minerals,
animals,andplants,choosingforthisthemomentmostfavorableaccordingtothemove
mentsofthestarsandtheinfluencesabove.Bythismeans,whenanarmyleftalijzor
alYamantoinvadeEgypt,thecamelsorotherfiguresrepresentedinthetemplesdisap
pearedundertheground:theforeignarmyimmediatelyexperiencedthesamefate,and
thesoldiersoranimalsweredestroyed.IftheinvasioncamefromSyria,thesamething
happenedtothefiguresturnedtowardthesidefromwhichthearmyadvanced,andthe
destructionoftheseimagescausedtheannihilationoftherealarmyaswell.Itwasthe
same for the armies coming out of the Marib or maritime expeditions directed from
Rome,Syria,etc.Thus,hesovereignsandforeignpeoplesfearedtheEgyptiansandkept
frommakingthemtheirenemy.9

As Ab Zayd `Abdu rRamn b. Muammad b. Khaldn (732 808 AH) explained: The
templesofUpperEgyptareremnantsofsorceryattestingtothecultivationofmagicinancient
Egypt...Thesethingswerelaterdeclaredforbiddenandillegal[sothat]thesciencesconcerned
withthemwerewipedoutandvanished...Theswordofreligiouslawhangsoverthemand
prohibitstheirchoiceasanobjectofstudy.10Traditionistsidentifiedmanyspecificsiteswith
placesmentionedintheQurn,thoughLeoAfricanusreportsthatvirtuallyanyancientrubble
intheMaribmightbeascribedtothePharaonicperiod,evenifpatentlyofGrecoRomandate,11
andthisultimatelymadeitanobjectoftaboo.

TheproscriptionagainstFir`awnsruinsdidnot,however,renderMuslimsinEgyptor
fromelsewhereintheIslmicworldinsensitivetotheirmagnificence.IbnJubayr,forexample,
whopassedthroughalFusaonhiswayfromarnaahtoMakkain579AH,consideredthe
pyramidsatalzaoneofthewondersoftheIslmicworld,12andvisitorswhostayedlongerin
the city generally took the opportunity to explore more distant sites as well. `Abd alLaf of
Badd,forexample,whospenttimewithMsab.MaimnandaladDnin603AH,made
theshorttriptoMemphis,whichhelaterrecalledinhisAccountofEgypt:

Despitewhateverhasbeenseentobethecausesofitsdestruction,theruins[ofMemphis]
stilloffertothespectatoracombinationofwondersthatsoconfoundstheunderstanding
thateventhemosteloquentmenwouldundertaketodescribetheminvain.Themore
onegazesuponthecityanditsremnants,thegreatertheadmirationitinspires;andevery
Alb.alusaynalMas`d,KitbMurjalDhahabwaMadinalJawhar,ed.C.BarbierdeMeynardand
P.deCourteille,rev.C.Pellat,5vols.(Beirut,196674),2:399400;translation:Lesprairiesdor(Paris,1967
74),2:3067.
9

IbnKhaldn,Muqaddimah3:128and89.

10

G.Ramusio,DelladescrizionedellAfricaedellecosenotabilichequivisonoperGiovanLioniAfri
cano,NavigazationieViaggi,ed.M.Milanese,3vols.(Torino,1978[1550]),1:21718.
11

IbnJubayr,TravelsofIbnJubayr,trans.R.Broadhurst(London,1952):4546

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additionalglanceattheruinsisafreshsourceofrapture.Scarcelydotheygivebirthin
themindtooneideabeforetheysuggestanotherstillmoreadmirable;andthemoment
yousatisfyyourselfthatyouhavereachedaperfectcomprehensionofthewhole,they
convinceyouthatwhatyouhaveconceivedstillfallsshortofthetruth.13

Heretical or not, the physician goes on to discuss the carvings at the site and, after a detailed
consideration of their technique, style, and especially the rendering of the human form, he
concludes:Thebeautyofthesculptedfacesandtheproportionsofthebodyrepresentoneofthe
supremeachievementsintherealmofart.Theyareasperfectascanberenderedinstone.14The
scale,engineering,andaestheticvalueofthesemonumentsattractedmanyintellectuals,andby
theMamlkperiodavoluminouscorpusofspecializedliteratureonEgyptianantiquities(thr)
had accumulated, characterized by an amalgamation of Egyptian, Arab, Hebrew, and Greek
scholarlysources,aswellasfabulousinventions.15WhenalMaqrzcametocomposehischapter
onpyramidsinthemiddleofthefifteenthcenturyCE,hewasabletoconsultovertwodozen
treatisesonthetopicalreadyincirculation,aswellasalargebodyofoccasionalliteratureand
celebratory verse. 16 Whatever their historical or aesthetic appeal, however, the ruins visible
acrossNorthAfricaandalongtheNilestillmainlystoodascautionaryremindersofaregime
whosecompleteeradicationhadbeenanecessaryconditionfortheriseandestablishmentofthe
truefaith:itwaspreciselyintheircorrosionanddecaythattheystoodaspalpablewitnesstothe
righteousnessandpropheticvisionofIslm.

Ithardlycomesasasurprise,then,thatthecalltorepairandreconstructthesefallenand
halfburiedmonumentsissuednotfromMuslimsbutfromEuropeanmerchants,travelers,dip
lomats,andestheteswhobegantovisitEgyptinincreasingnumbersfromthelateseventeenth
century CE on. What appeal, what secret penchant [draws me to] this malformed jumble of
ruinedpalacesandfallentemples?J.B.Coeuilheaskedin1768.Turningarchitect,Igather,I
organize,Irecombinethismassoffragmentsinmymind,whereallatoncemajesticmonuments
arise.17Likewise,architecturalhistorians,suchasJ.B.FischervonErlach,tookthesketchesof
theEgyptianantiquitiesbroughtbackbytravelerstotheNilevalleyandbegantoreconstructthe
ruined buildings in hopes that through intervention [and] reasonable conjecture, they might
rescuethemonumentsfromtheinjuriesoftime.18Pictorialrestitutionsofthistypequickly

`AbdalLaf,HistoriaeAegyptiCompendium,arabicetlatin,ed.J.White(Oxford,1800):11820.

13

Ibid.128.

14

Tociteonlythemostfamous:IbnZlqsHistoryandPraiseofEgypt,theAnnalsofalMusabbi,Ibn
WafShhsAccountofEgyptanditsWonders,Murtab.al`AffsBookofMarvels,alMaqrzsOpinions
andObservationsontheHistoryoftheDistrictsandMonumentsofEgypt,alQalqaandisGlimmerofDawnfor
theDimsighted.
15

ArabictextandtranslationinE.Graefe,DasPyramidenkapitelinalMakrzsKhia(Leipzig,1911).

16

J.B.Coeuilhe,Lesruines(Paris,1768).Fortheintellectualcontext,seeChapter2.

17

J.FischervonErlach,EntwurffeinerhistorichenArchitectur(Vienna,1721),Preface.

18

xi

PARERGON

gaverisetotheideaofmaterialrestoration,19andbytheendoftheeighteenthcentury,public
officers,mostprominentlyA.C.QuatremredeQuincy,begantopromotetheconservationand
refurbishmentofthescatteredremains:

Itiscrucial,bothforhistoryandfortheartsingeneral,toprolongtheexistenceofarchi
tecturalmonuments,toarresttheirdeterioration,andtocompletethem,wherethereis
stilltime,byreestablishingwhatismissingonthemodelofthepartsthatstillsurvive...
Inpreservingruinedbuildings,...[oneneeds]torestoretheirintegrity,asfarasthisis
possible,eitherbyreplacingtheoriginalmaterials,orbysubstitutingonesthataresimilar,
ordisencumbering[thestructures]fromdebris,orsweepingawaytheearththatconceals
theirfoundations,ortheovergrowthdefacingthem.20

ForEgypt,withitsnumberlessfragmentsofcolumnsandheapsofruinedconstructions,21this
notonlyentailedanobligation...toreproducethetotalityof[thebuildings]disposition,with
itsproperarrangement,relations,andproportions,22butpositedavastprogramofarchaeolo
gicalinquest,recoveryandreevaluation.IfEgyptwerepossessedbyaNationsympatheticto
thefinearts,Volneywrotewithhiseyeonthehorizon,weshouldfindtheseresourcesforan
understandingoftheancientworldsuchaselsewhereearthdeniesus...Untilthattime,perhaps
notsofardistantasonethinks,wemustputoffourdesiresandourhopes.Itisthenthatweshall
be able to dig the whole land of the Nile and the deserts of Libya . . . where the monuments
coveredinthesandspreservethemselvesintrustforthecominggeneration.23
Byandlarge,EuropeanruinistesremainedignorantofwhatOkashaelDaklyhascalled
themissingmillenniumofMuslimscholarshipdevotedtothePharaonicerawhichincluded
studiesofalqalamalbarbw(thepenoftheruinedtemples,i.e.,hieroglyphs)andalqalamal
khin(thepenofthepriests,i.e.,hieratic),aswellasPharaonicscience,medicine,andmagic.24
FortheresidentsofOttomanEgypt,however,theQurnsdirectivetostudythemeansbywhich
Fir`awnsregimeresistedtheorderofGodwasonething;butEuropeandesignstoexcavateand
reconstructthemonumentsofhisarchitectHmn,wasquiteanother,andthisproveddisquiet
ingtosaytheleast.WhenEuropeantravelersarrivedandbeganmeasuringanddrawingevery
Pharaonic ruin that they could find, Egyptians tended to react with suspicion, if not outright
hostility, something that the Europeans unfortunately misconstrued as ignorance or malice. 25
UsingtheprofileofthefirstpylonatEdfuastheinspirationforamoresleekmodernofficeor
Fortheterminologicaldistinction,seeA.C.QuatremredeQuincy,Encyclopdiemthodique:Architecture,
3vols.(Paris,17881825),3:28688.
19

Ibid.3:314.

20

Ibid.1:27.

21

Ibid.3:286.

22

Volney,Voyage1:25657.

23

O.elDaly,op.cit.

24

See,forexample,C.Niebuhr,ReisebeschreibungnachArabienundandernumliegendenLndern,2vols(Co
penhagen,177478).
25

xii

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

apartmentcomplexasdoesVolumeIoftheNapoleonicDescriptiondelgypte(1809)[Fig.2]
came dangerously close in the eyes of the Egyptian `alm (scholars) to reviving the order of
PharaonicEgypt.Infact,readingthroughtheaccountsofEuropeantravelerstoEgyptfromthe

DescriptiondelEgypteAI(1809)

EgyptianRevivalhouse,LosFeliz(1924)

Fig.2
xiii

PARERGON

midseventeenthcenturyCEthroughtheearlynineteenthonecannothelpbutnoticetheover
proportionatenumberoffallnwhomurderedEuropeansatornearPharaonicsiteswhererob
berydoesnotseemtohavebeenamotive.Thiswaspotentiallyonequickanddirtywaytodeal
withunbelievers(kuffr)whohadthetemeritytorushinwhereangelsfearedtotread,partic
ularlyindividualsintentonrestoringtheverymonumentalbuildingsthatboththeQurnand
laterIslmictraditionhaddeclaredtaboo.Inonesense,then,theexecutionscarriedoutatFir
`awnsspuriousandsacrilegiousHolyofHolies(9sr-Dsr.w)on17November1997bytheVan
guardsofConquest,onemilitantIslmicgroupamongothersoperatingincontemporaryEgypt,
continuedthistraditionthoughmoremethodicallyandonamuchlargerscale.
Between1992and2015,infact,therehavebeenoverfortyfivefatalattacksontouristsat
EgyptianmuseumsorarcheologicalsitesmanyinspiredbythewahhbmissionofalQ`ida
withthegoalofriddingthecountryofallindividualsprimarilyinterestedinpreIslmicEgypt,
butwithlittleornoconcernforEgyptswelfareasanorthodoxIslmicstate.WhileMuslimlaw
(ar`ah) in no way prohibits the study of Egyptian antiquities, it does provide an asymmetric
challengetotheostensiblysecularanddisinterestedreconfigurationof`IlmalMirytinto
Egyptologyasanindependentandscientificfieldofknowledgeproduction,nowcentered
intheWest.TopreservetheTempleofIsisatPhilaebytransportingitfromoneislandtoanother,
to digitalize Karnak so that one can fly through its colonnades in virtual 3D, to rebuild the
LibraryatAlexandriaistoembarkuponaprecariousventure.Itistoenterandtointervene
withinaculturallycontestedterrain,wherethereisnotjustonewitnesstothetruthofthe
disciplinebuttwo.German,Latin,JapanesestudentsrisklittletodayinlearningtoreadGeru
salemmeliberata(1575),OsMaias(1888),orGenjimonogatori(c.1025).ToresurrectclassicalEgyp
tian,however,topiecebacktogetherthehieraticfragmentsofSinuhe,tocrackthecryptography
oftheTempleatEsna:thisistostirupthedust,torevivifytherubbleofthepreIslmicpast,
whichisthereforetotakeupwhetherconsciouslyornotapositionwithinpoliticsonaworld
order.
In the empirical legacy that runs from Francis Bacon through John Locke to Auguste
ComteandKarlPopper,WesternscholarshaveconfidentlylinkedEgyptologytomanspotential
forperfectibilityasciencevalidatedbyitsstruggletoovercomewhatevenTertullianhad
alreadyrecognizedinthesecondcenturyCEastheabsurdity(ineptia)thatstandsattheheart
ofChristianfaith.26ContemporaryMuslims,however,atleastthosewhofollowinthefootsteps
oftheEgyptianactivistandmartyrSayyidQub,considertheinterventionofEgyptologyasa
matterofbeliefandrectitudewhosesolejustificationwouldentail,inSrenKierkegaardsterms,
ateleologicalsuspensionoftheethical27anotionratherforeigntoMuslimthought.AsQub
explainsinhismomentousMa`limfialarq(SignpostsalongtheWay[1963]):

When a person embraced Islm during the time of the Prophetpeace be upon
himhewouldimmediatelycuthimselfofffromjhiliyyahthatis,thestateignorantof
theguidancefromGod.WhenhesteppedintothecircleofIslm,andwouldstartanew
life,separatinghimselfcompletelyfromhispastlifeunderignoranceofDivineLaw.Hewould
Tertullian,DecarneChristiV,4:prorsuscredibileest,quiaineptumest.

26

S.Kierkegaard,FrygtogBven(Copenhagen,1843),Problema1.

27

xiv

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

lookuponhisdeedsduringhislifeofignorancewithmistrustandfear,withafeelingthat
thesewereimpureandcouldnotbetoleratedinIslm.Withthisfeeling,hewouldturn
toward Islm for new guidance. Thus, there would be a break between the Muslims
presentIslmandhispastjhiliyyah,andthisafterawellthoughtoutdecision,asaresult
of which all his relationships with jhiliyyah, would be cut off and he would be joined
completelytoIslm.Thiswasthepartingofthewaysandthestartingpointofanewjourney,
ajourneyfreefromthepressuresandthevalues,conceptsandtraditionofthejhilsociety.
Today,wearealsosurroundedbyjhiliyyah,whichisofthesamenatureasitwas
duringthefirstperiodofIslm,perhapsevenalittledeeper...Itisthereforenecessary
inthewayoftheIslmicmovementthatintheearlystagesofourtrainingandeducation
weshouldremoveourselvesfromalltheinfluences ofthejhiliyyahinwhichweliveandfrom
which we derive benefits. We must return to that pure source from which those people
derivedtheirguidance,thesourceofwhichisfreefromanymixingorpollution.Wemust
freeourselvesfromtheclutchesofjhilsociety,ofjhilconcepts,jhiltraditionsandjhil
leadership.Ourmissionisnottocompromisewiththepracticesofjhilsociety,nottruck
anycompromise.28

Onthreeoccasions,theQurnemploysthetermjhiliyyah(ignorance)todesignatethe
eraofunknowingthatprecededMuammadsadventasaprophetand,throughhismediation,
thedescentoftheQurn.ForQub,themostimportantoftheseprooftextscomesfromtheSratu
lFatthe Srah of Victorywhich traces the passage ofmankind from a stateof ignorance
(jhiliyyah)to one of knowledge (`ilm): When those who disbelieved held disdain in their
heartsthedisdainofignorance(alamiyyataljhiliyyati)GodsentdownHisSakna[cf.Heb.
knh)onHisMessengerandonthebelievers,andmadethemadheretothewordofright
eousness(taqw)(Q48:26).BorrowedfrompreIslmicpoetry,thetermjhiliyyahfigureshere
aspartofadiachronicschemeinwhichtheQurndividesUniversalHistoryintotwoperiods
thatareantitheticallyopposedfirst,anoriginaryageofignorance,which,endedthroughthe
intervention of the Prophet, who introduced instead an age of cognizanceor, if you will,
Islm.Together,then,thepairjhiliyyahand`ilmorjhiliyyah/islmconstitutesoneofthefoun
dationaloppositionsthatstructureMuslimthought,whichrelegatesjhilideas,jhiltraditions,
jhilart,literature,andarchitecturetoanabsolutepastthatnotonlyremainsoveranddonewith,
buthasnoutilityorvalueforthepresent.
Hencethewellknownstoryalmostcertainlyapocryphalconcerningthedestruction
ofthegreatLibraryatAlexandria,whichIbnalQift(c.567645AH)relatesasfollows:

YayalNawtheEgyptian,theAlexandrian,discipleofSeverus,wasabishopin
thechurchofAlexandriabyEgyptwhoadvocatedtheJacobiteway.Lateron,however,
after having read works of philosophy, he rejected what Christians believed about the
Trinity,anditbecameimpossibleforhimthattheOnehadbecomeThreeandthatthe
ThreewouldbeOne.WhenitwasdiscoveredbythebishopsofEgyptthathehadrejected
S.Qub,Milestones,2nded.(Damascus,n.d.),condensedandmodified;emphasisadded.Seefurther,S.
Khatab,ThePoliticalThoughtofSayyidQutb:TheTheoryofJahiliyyah(NewYork,2006).
28

xv

PARERGON

[thisdoctrine],theybecamefuriousandgatheredtodiscusshiscaseandtoorganizea
disputation.Heretheyrefutedhimandhisviewwasdeclaredheretical.Hisincapacity
pleasedthemandtheysoughttoreconcilewithhim,displayingafriendlyattitudeand
asking him to retract his view and to stop saying what he had wanted to prove and
establishtothem.Buthedidnot,sotheydismissedhimfromhisposition,aftersome
publicdiscourses.
NowYay,wholiveduntiltheconquestofEgyptby`Amribnal`,andcameto
visit`Amr,whoknewhisreputationinknowledgeandhisposition[ontheTrinity]and
what had happened to him with the Christians. `Amr honored him and gave him a
position.HelistenedtohisspeechabouttheimpossibilityoftheTrinityandwaspleased
withit.HealsolistenedtoYaysspeechonthecessationoftheworldandwasamazed
byit,despitethefactthatwhatheusedwerelogicalproof.`AmrlistenedtoYaysphil
osophical expressions with sympathy, although the Arabs did not know them, and
becamefondofhim,for`Amrwasnotonlysensible,butalsogoodlistenerandthinker.
SohetookYay[intohiscompany]andkepthimalwaysathisside.
OnedayYaysaidto`Amr,YouhaveauthorityoverAlexandria,andhaveseized
allmannerofthingsinit.Iwillnotobjecttoanythingthatisofusetoyou,butanything
thatisnotusefultoyou,weshouldhaveapriority.`Amrsaidtohim:Whatisitthat
you want? To which Yay replied, The books of wisdom which are in the royal
storehousestheyhavefallenunderyourresponsibility,butyoudonthaveanyusefor
them,whileweneedthemourselves.`Amrsaidtohim:Whogatheredthesebooks,and
whatissoimportantaboutthem?AndYayansweredhim:PtolemyPhiladelphus,
oneofthekingsofEgypt.Inhisreign,scienceandthepeopleofsciencewereheldin
esteem,andhesearchedforbooksofknowledgeandorderedthemtobecollected,dedi
catingspecialstoreroomstothemandtrustingtheresponsibilityfortheircollectiontoa
mannamedZamra.AndPtolemysupportedZamrasothathecouldcollectthebooks,
searchforthem,buythem,andincitesellerstobringthem.Inashorttime,hehadassem
bled54,120books.
When the king was informed of Zamras success in this business and he had
verifiedtheirnumber,heaskedhim:Doyouthinkthatthereisabookremaininginthe
wordthatwedonthave?AndZamrareplied:Therearestillintheworldagreatmass:
inSind,inIndiaandPersia,inJurjanandinArmenia,Babylonia,andMosul,aswellas
amongtheByzantines.Andthekingwaspleasedwiththisandhetoldhim:Continuein
yourpursuit.Andsohediduntilthedeathoftheking.Andthesebooksarekeptuntil
todayandpreservedastheresponsibilityofthegovernorsworkingforthekingsandtheir
successors.
`AmrwasquiteimpressedwithwhatYayhadtoldhim,andhebegantocovet
thebooksaboutwhichYayhadspoken,buthesaid:Icannotmakeanyorderwithout
firstaskingthepermissionofthePrinceoftheFaithful`UmaribnalKhab.Sohe
wroteto`Umar,informinghimofYaysspeechaswehavereporteditandaskingfor
hisinstructionsaboutwhatheshoulddo.Andhereceivedaletterfrom`Umarenjoining
him:Asforthebooksyoumention,iftheyareinagreementwiththeBookofGod,we

xvi

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

havenoneedofthem.AndifwhattheysaycontradictstheBookofGodtheyaresuper
fluous.Therefore,destroythem.`Amribnal`thenorderedthatthebooksbedis
persedamongthepublicbathsandburnttoheatthem.AndIwastoldthatatthattime
severaldifferentpublicbathsused[thebooks]forheating.Anditissaidthattherewere
enoughbookstoheatthebathsforsixmonths.Hearwhathashappenedandmarvel.29

VersionsofthisstoryoccurinseveralclassicalhistoriansincludingalabarandIbnKhaldn.
ItcontinuestosurvivetodayamongtheCopts,who,alongwithWesterncritics,tendtoadduce
the tale as evidence for the ignorance, arbitrariness, and barbarism of the Muslim con
querors, who proceeded to destroy the cultural capital of Egypt. AlQifts tale, however, is
perhaps better understood as a parable (mathal) of jhiliyyah. Thus, even before the arrival of
`Amribnal`,theJacobitebishopYayalNawrejectsthedoctrineoftheTrinity,deducing
instead, through logical argumentation alone, the absolute unity of God (tawd). This, unbe
knownsttohim,alreadyconstitutedoneofthefivepillarsofIslm,whichevenunderpressure
fromtheEgyptianclergy,Yayrefusedtorecant.This,inturn,opensthewayforYayscon
versationswith`Amribnal`who,farfromanuneducatedmarauder,turnsouttobeasensible,
educated, and thoughtful interlocutor. In the course of their discussions, moreover, Yay
deduceslogicallythatis,withoutrecoursetorevelationasecondmajortenetofIslm:name
ly,theeschatologicalcessationoftheworld.Infact,thesetwoprinciplescorrespondpreciselyto
thetwomaintenetsstressedinthefirstsrahoftheQurn(alFtiah),whichaddressesGodas
LordoftheWords(rabbial`alimna),andSovereignoftheDayofDoom(mlikiyawmildni).
MuchlikeIbnufaylsayyibnYaqn,then,whosecompositionprecededalQiftsaccountby
severaldecades,partofthepointofthestoryistodemonstratethecomplicityratherthananta
gonismbetweenrevelationandphilosophy.Ineffect,Yayproveslogicallywhat`Amr,one
ofMuammadsclosestCompanions,hadlearnedbyrotefromthemouthoftheProphet.
Bothmenerr,however,intheirattractiontotheLibraryanditsstorehouseofpreIslmic
writingsgatheredfromtheworldoveramistakethatintheendrequiresforitscorrectiondirect
intervention of the Caliph `Umar alFrqthat is, he who distinguishes between right and
wrong.Logically,`Umarpointsout,allliteraryremainssurvivingfromtheageofignorance
mustwithregardtotheQurnproveeitherredundantorheretical.Thebonfireofthebooks,
then,usedtoheatthebathsforthecomfortofthefaithful(muminn),prefigurestheHellfirethat
awaitsdisbelievers(kuffr)ontheDayofDoom.Inthisway,then,thedestructionoftheLibrary
becomestheprototypeofalllaterattacksonjhilthought,jhilwriting,andjhilartandarchi
tecture.AsforSayyidQub,then,hismandatethatweshouldremoveourselvesfromallthe
influences of the jhiliyyah in which we live and from which we derive benefits effectively
rehearsesatoposthathasbeenincirculationfromatleastthethirdcenturyAH.
On 9 March 2015, the Terrorism Portal of the Eurasia Review, an online journal that
reportscurrenteventsintheMiddleEastandcommentsonthem,publishedthefollowingnews
item:

J.Lippert,IbnalQiftsTralukam(Leipzig,1965),35457.

29

xvii

PARERGON

An Islamist preacher from Kuwait has called to destroy Egypts Sphinx and
pyramids,statingitistimeforMuslimstoerasethepharaohsheritage.Theallegedcall
comesasIslamicStatejihadistsrampuptheirattacksagainsthistoricsites.
Althoughtheancientmonumentsarenotreligiousbutratherculturalandhistoric
sites they should still be destroyed by Muslims, putting an end to the worship of
images,preacherIbrahimAlKandarisaid,accordingtoAlWatandaily.
ThefactthatearlyMuslimswhowereamongtheProphetMohammedsfollowers
didnotdestroythepharaohsmonumentsuponenteringtheEgyptiansoil,doesnotmean
thatweshouldntdoitnow,AlKandarisaid.
AnothercallforthedestructionofEgyptsmainsymbolscomesfromtheIslamicState
leaderAbuBakralBaghdadi,whosuggestedthedemolitionofthehistoricmonuments
isareligiousduty,AlAlamnewsreportedonSunday.30

Suchreportssurpriseorshockonlythosewhoremainignorant(jahl)oftraditionalIslmicteach
ingsconcerningjhiliyyah.31Moreover,incharacterizingtheancientmonumentsofEgyptasnot
religiousbutratherculturalandhistoricsites,theauthorappearsunawarethatKemetism
thatis,therevivaloftheancientEgyptianreligiousbeliefsandritualsiscurrentlyontherise.32
Accordingly,throughouttheMiddleEasttoday,thechoirofvoicescallingtoeradicatethere
mainsofFir`awnsarutowers,palaces,cities,temples,tombscontinuestoswell,drowning
outEuropeanandAmericancriticswhowithshortmemoriesofKrystallnacht(1938CE)orthe
bombingoftheMostarBridge(1993CE)resorttohurlingslursofbarbarismorirrationalityat
a more or less undifferentiated mass of Arabs. In fact, organizations such as Tali` alFat,
which have slaughtered tourists at Egyptian archeological sites or threatened to destroy the
Pyramidscleverlykilltwobirdswithonestone:ontheonehand,asAbBakrilBaddputs
it,theyperformtheirreligiousdutyinexpellingjhiliyyahfromthecircleofIslm.Atthe
sametime,however,eliminatingtouristsanddemolishingthesitesthattheymostwanttosee,
theyeffectivelydisruptthetouristtradeinEgyptthenationssecondlargestsourceofrevenue,
afterexportlabortoadegreethatunderminesboththecountryssolvencyandtheauthorityof
agovernmentthattherevolutionariesalreadyperceiveasoverrunwithjhilithought,priorities,
andvalues.PerhapsQubsgreatestcontributiontothehistoryofIslmicpoliticalthought,then,
residesinhisreformulationofjhiliyyahlessasanantecedenttoIslmthanasasynchronicphe
nomenonthat,farfromrelegatedtothepast,continuestoengulfandchallengeMuslimsinthe
present:Ourwholeenvironment,peoplesbeliefsandideas,habitsandart,rulesandlawsis
jhiliyyah,eventotheextentthatwhatweconsidertobeIslmicculture,Islmicphilosophyand
Islmicthoughtarealsoconstructsofjhiliyyah!33Asearlyas1949,Qubaccordinglypredicted:
[T]herealstruggleinthefuturewillnotbebetweencapitalismandcommunismnorbetween

EurasiaReviewMarch9,2015.http://www.eurasiareview.com/category/terrorism/.

30

SeeJ.R.Halverson,etal.,eds.MasterNarrativesofIslamistExtremism(NewYork,2011).

31

Seehttp://www.kemet.org/.Retrieved31615.

32

S.Qub,Milestones20.

33

xviii

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

theEasterncampandtheWesterncamp;itwillbebetweenthematerialismvisiblethroughout
theworldandIslm.
Egyptology,then,whichwhetheronelookstoarcheology,religion,literature,orart
remains a fundamentally materialist enterprise stands at the center of a current and ongoing
sociopoliticalstrugglewhoseviolencecontinuestoescalatewitheachnewdiscoveryorrecu
perativeventure.Accordingly,forQubandhissuccessors,Egyptologynotonlyformspartand
parcelofaManicheanstrugglebetweenignorance(jahl)andknowledge(`ilm):itconstitutesa
venturethatultimatelybearseschatologicallyonthefateofeachpractitionerssoul.

Howmanycities,teemingwithsin,haveWelaidtowaste!Theylieindesolateruin,their
wallsabandonedandtheirproudpalacesempty.Dopeoplenotseehowmanygener
ations We have destroyed before them? They walk amidst the very ruins where once they
dwelt.Surelyinthistherearesigns(yt)forpeopleofdiscernment.[Q22:44and20:128,
emphasisadded]

Ultimately,then,astheSrathpointsout,thematterhingesonthesemiologyofruins:con
sidered as a sign, the nose missing from the Great Sphinx at alza means one thing to an
EgyptologisttrainedinChicago,Paris,London,orBerlinbutquiteanotherto
thatis,tothecurrentlyemergentIslamicStateofIraqandSyria(ISIS).34Atthe
sametime,however,thisrendersthetwopositionsbothofwhichtookontheirpresentformin
relationtocapitalismasaworldsystemtwosidesofthesamepoliticohistoricalcoin:thatis,
asTheodorAdornofamouslyputit,theymakeuptwohalvesthatdonotadduptomakea
whole. So George Bataille, anticipating Martin Heidegger, 35 proves less sanguine about the
prospectsofmoderntechnologyandscienceforthegeneralprojectofenlightenment:

Themandeprivedbyfearoftheneedtobeamanhasplacedhisgreatesthopesinscience.
Hehasrenouncedthecharacteroftotalitythathisactshadaslongashewantedtolive
his destiny. For the act of science must be autonomous and the scientist excludes all
humaninterestsexternaltothedesireforknowledge.Amanwhobearstheburdenof
sciencehasexchangedhumandestinysconcernforlivingwithaconcernforthediscovery
oftruth.Hepassesfromthetotalitytoapart,andservingthispartdemandsthattheother
partsnolongercount.Scienceisafunctionthatdevelopedonlyafteroccupyingtheplace
ofthedestinythatitwastohaveserved.Foritcoulddonothingaslongasitserved.
Itisaparadoxthatafunctioncouldonlybefulfilledontheconditionthatitbecome
anendinitself.Thetotalityofsciencesthatmanhasathisdisposalisduetothissortof
fraud.Butifitistruethatthehumandomainhasincreasedbecauseofit,ithasbeenat
thecostofacrippledexistence.36

34

SeeAbdelBariAtwan,IslamicState:TheDigitalCaliphate(Oakland,2015).

M.Heidegger,DieFragenachderTechnik,VortrgeundAufstze(Pfullingen,1954).

35

G.Bataille,Lapprentisorcier(1938),sec.III,inOeuvrescompltes,ed.D.Hollieretal.,12vols.(Paris,
197088),2:52337.

36

xix

PARERGON

By diverse means, Michel de


Montaigne reminds us, we
arriveatthesameend(pareille
fin).37 Accordingly, the Islmi
cate proposition that the an
tiquities of Egypt should re
mainaswreckageintestimony
to the truth of the Qurn and
the Enlightenment notion of
perfectibility that drives the
moderndisciplineofEgyptolo
gyturnouttobemirrorimages
ofoneanother.Whilethefirst
clings to the materially of the
ruinperse,thesecondunder
Fig.3.DescriptiondelEgypte(1809)AII87
the guise of recuperating dila
38
pidated moniments increasingly decomposes this process by way of an evergrowing
voltigeofsubspecializationswhich,asAntonioGramscinoted,constitutesthehallmarkofFord
ism39archaeology, papyrology, linguistics, art, architecture, archaeobotany, archaeodentistry,
archaeastronomy,geometry,andsofortheachofwhich,asBatailleobserves,hasdevelopedless
in conversation with the others than as ends in and of themselves. The European eye, as the
plates to the Description de Lgypte amply testify, is an atomizing gaze (Fig. 3). Whether one
startsoutfromtheQurn,then,orfromJ.F.ChampollionsLettreM.Dacier(1822),wewind
upliterallyaswellasfigurativelywithaheapofbrokenimages,wherethesunbeats,Andthe
deadtreegivesnoshelter,thecricketnoreliefAndthedrystonenosoundofwater.40Assuch,
theshatteredremnantsofPharaonicEgypttwovastandtrunklesslegsofstone...ashattered
visage, halfsunk into the sand . . . the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
constitutenothingsomuchassignpoststothedesertofthereal.41
Todayweknow,NiklasLuhmannremindsus,thattheexternalworldisthebrainsown
construction,treatedbyconsciousnessasifitwerearealityoutthere.TostudyEgyptianhiero
glyphs,then,isnotonlytoassumeapartipriswithinapoliticallychargedculturaldomainto
embrace,asitwere,thepathofjhiliyyah.Inconjuringupaphantasmaticworldofthemind,
hieroglyphsconcomitantlyrenderaccessibleanontologicalpredicamentthatwouldotherwise
remainoccluded.42
37

M.deMontaigne,Oeuvrescompltes(Paris,1962[Pliade]),11.

Cf.E.Spenser,TheFaerieQueeneI,v:Hisgoodlycorps...Wasquitedismembered,andhismembers
chastScatteredoneverymountaine,ashewent,ThatofHippolytuswasleftnomoniment.

38

39

SeeA.Gramsci,Quaderno22.Americanismoefordismo(Rome,1978).

40

T.S.Eliot,TheWasteLand(1922),ll.2224.

LooselyafterP.B.Shelley,Ozymandias.A.andL.Wachowski,TheMatrix(1999);seeS.iek,Welcome
totheDesertoftheReal(London,2002).

41

42

N.Luhmann,ArtasaSocialSystem,trans.E.Knot(Stanford,2000),553.

xx

TableofContents

Preface
MapofAncientEgypt
HistoricalChronology
Abbreviations

PartOne.Grammar

Introduction
I1.AfroasiaticLanguages
I2.TheEgyptianLanguage
I3.SpokenEgyptianandWrittenEgyptian
I4.ScriptsoftheEgyptianLanguages
I5.TheHieroglyphicWritingSystem
I6.MonoconsonantalAcrophones
I7.MulticonsonantalSignsandPhoneticComplements
I8.ModernClassroomPronunciation
I9.Determinatives
I10.CommonGenericDeterminatives
I11.TheDirectionofHieroglyphicScript
I12.ArrangementsofSigns
I13.OrthographicVariation
I14.Transliteration:FurtherConventions
I15.TheUseoftheLinearStroke
I16.TheHieroglyphicWord
I17.Lexicography
I18.GeneralIntroductionstoEgyptianHistoryandCulture

Lesson1

1.1PartsofSpeech

1.2.Nouns

1.2.1Gender

1.2.2Number

Declension

Replication

Strokes

1.3.Adjectives

1.3.1.AttributiveAdjectives

1.3.2.SubstantivalAdjectives

Adjectivesusedascommonnouns

Abstractuseofthefemininesingular

xxi

CONTENTS

Vocabulary
Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson2

2.1.NounPhrases

2.2.SimplePossession

2.2.1.TheDirectGenitive

2.2.2.TheIndirectGenitive

2.3.Apposition

2.4.Connection

2.4.1.Conjunction

2.4.2.Disjunction

2.5.Prepositions

2.6.Alterity

2.7.TheVocative

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson3

3.1.Thenfr HrConstruction

3.2.Syntagmatics

3.2.1.HonorificTransposition

3.2.2.Graphictransposition

3.2.3.Monograms

3.3Sentences:NonverbalPredicates

3.3.1.NonverbalSentencesI:Adjectival

3.3.2.TheExclamatorywj

3.3.3.TheImpersonalPredicateAdjective+Prepositionn

3.4.DegreesofQuality

3.4.1.Comparison

3.4.2.Superlatives

DirectGenitive

Repetitionofamodifier

Adverbialmodifiers

Prepositions

xxii

3.5.TheQuantifiernb
3.6.Demonstratives

3.6.1.Proximal(pn / tn)

3.6.2.Far(pf / tf)

3.6.3.Known(pA / tA)

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson4

4.1.Nisbation

4.1.1.Nouns:Forms

4.1.2.Prepositions:Forms

4.2.NisbaAdjectives:Usage

4.3.Titles

4.3.Idioms

4.4.ThePeriphrasticuseofjrj

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson5

5.1.IndependentPronouns

5.2.NonverbalSentences:Nominal

5.2.1.ABSentences

5.2.2.ApwSentences

5.2.3Apw BSentences

5.3.TheRoyalTitulary

5.4.4p sn:(Read)Twice

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson6

6.1.NonverbalSentences:Adverbial

6.2.TheMeaningofjwandmk

6.3.SuffixPronouns

6.3.1.Nouns

6.3.2.Prepositions

6.3.3.RelationalAdjectives

6.3.4.Withjw

6.3.5.Reflexivity

6.4.TheMofPredication

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

xxiii

CONTENTS

Lesson7

7.1.DoubleArticulation

7.1.1.Subordination

7.1.2.Circumstances

7.1.3.CircumstantialClauseswithPronominalSubject

7.2.Verbs:AnIntroduction

7.3.VerbClasses

7.3.1.Radicals

7.3.2.MutabilityoftheStem

7.3.3.SCausatives

7.4.Infinitives

7.4.1.Forms

7.4.2.Usage

Vocabulary

Exercises

Essay

FurtherReading

Lesson8

8.1.ThePseudoverbalConstruction

8.1.1.1r+Infinitive:ProgressiveAction

8.1.2.M+Infinitive:VerbsofMotion

8.1.3.ProgressiveCircumstantialClauses

8.1.4.R +Infinitive:TheAllative

8.2.TheStative

8.2.1.StativeForms

8.2.2.TheStativeinMainClauses

8.2.3.TheStativeinDependentClausesofCircumstance

8.2.4.TheVerbrx intheStative

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson9

9.1.DependentPronouns

9.1.1.Forms

9.1.2.Usage

9.2.Infinitives:Subject,Object,IndirectObject

9.2.1.TheSubjectoftheInfinitive

9.2.2.TheDirectObjectoftheInfinitive

9.2.3.TheIndirectObjectoftheInfinitive

9.3.IndependentUsesoftheInfinitive

9.3.1.Captions

xxiv

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

9.3.2.TheNarrativeInfinitive

9.4.TheInfinitiveasaNoun

9.4.1.Subject

9.4.2.Object

Verbs

Prepositions

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson10

10.1.TheStative:IndependentUses

10.1.1.FirstPersonSingular

10.1.2.SecondandThirdPerson

10.1.3.Jw +Stative

10.2.AbstractNounsIdiomswithbwands.t

10.3.Numbers

10.3.1.CardinalNumbers

10.3.2.NumericalNotation

10.3.3.OrdinalNumbers

10.4.Measurements

10.4.1.Length

10.4.2.Area

10.4.3Volume

LiquidMeasures

DryMeasures

10.5.Weights

10.6.Time

10.7.Dates

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson11

11.1.NonverbalSentences:Overview

11.1.1.NominalSentences

11.1.2.AdjectivalSentences

11.1.3.AdverbialSentences

11.2.VerbalSentences:Introduction

11.2.1.Tense

11.2.2.Aspect

11.3.TheSuffixConjugation:Overview

11.4.TheTranspositionoftheVerbinMiddleEgyptian
xxv

CONTENTS

11.5.TheCircumstantial4Dm=fForm

11.5.1.Morphology

11.5.2.Syntax

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson12

12.1.TheCircumstantial4Dm.n=fForm

12.1.1.Morphology

12.1.2.TenseandAspect

12.2.ClausesofCircumstance:MainandDependent

Excursus

12.3.RelativeClauses

12.3.1.VirtualRelativeClauses

12.3.2.TheRelativeAdjective

12.3.3.TheNegativeRelativeAdjective

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson13

13.1.Fronting

13.1.1.Jw+Noun+4Dm=f / Jw=f sDm=f

13.1.2.Subject/Object+4Dm=f / 4Dm.n=f

13.1.3.Topicalization:Jr+Noun+Predicate

13.2.NominalVerbForms

13.2.1.Morphology

Nominal4Dm=f

Nominal4Dm.n=f

13.3.TheNominal4Dm=f:Usage

13.3.1.EmphaticSentenceConstructions

13.3.2.ReciprocalSentences(TheWechselsatz)

13.3.3.NounClauses

13.3.4.IndependentUses

13.4.TheNominal4Dm.n=f:Usage

13.4.1.EmphaticConstructions

13.4.2.ReciprocalSentences

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

xxvi

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Lesson14

14.1.VerbsofPerception

14.2.VerbsofMotion

14.3.VerbsofIncompletePredication

14.4.TheProspective4Dm=f

14.4.1.Morphology

14.4.2.Usage

Mainclauses

Purposeclauses

Resultclauses

Nounclauses

TheProspective4Dm=f afterparticles

14.4.3.ConditionalSentences

14.5.Particles

14.5.1.Proclitic

14.5.2.Enclitic

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReadings

Lesson15

15.1.WordOrderintheVerbalSentence

15.2.OmissionoftheSubjectand/orDirectObject

15.3.TheOldIndicative4Dm=f

15.4.SimpleNegation

15.4.1.NegationofNonverbalSentenceswithAdverbialPredicate:nn

15.4.2.NegationofVerbalSentences:nj andnn

15.4.3.NegationofSentenceswithNominalPredicate:nj . . . js

15.4.4.NegationofSentenceswithAdjectivalPredicate

15.4.5.NegationofNouns,Phrases,andInfinitives:nj, nj js,and nn

15.5.ComplexNegation

15.5.1.TheNegativalComplement

15.5.2.NegationoftheProspective:Jmj=f sDm.w
15.5.3.NegationoftheNominalsDm=f: 6m=f sDm.w
15.5.4.NegationoftheInfinitive:6m sDm

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson16

16.1.ExistentialSentences

16.1.1.Existence

16.1.2.Nonexistence
xxvii

CONTENTS

16.2.ThePassiveVoice

16.3.ThePassiveintw

16.3.1.Morphology

16.3.2.Usage

16.4.Forms:4Dm(w)=f / Jrj(j)=f

16.4.1.Morphology

16.4.2.Usage

16.5.The4Dmm=f

16.6.TheImperative

16.6.1.Morphology

16.6.2.Usage

16.7.TheNegativeImperative

16.8.AdditionalEncliticParticles

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

Lesson17

17.1.TheTerminative

17.1.1.Morphology

17.1.2.Usage

TheN 4Dm.t=fConstruction

Preposition+4Dm.t=f

17.1.3.ThePassive4Dm.t=f

17.2.Participles

17.2.1.Morphology

17.2.2.Usage

17.3.EquationalParticipialConstructions

17.4.ExtendedUseofthePassiveParticiples

17.5.PassiveParticiple+Noun

Vocabulary

Exercise

FurtherReading

Lesson18

18.1.Consecution
18.1.1.4Dm.jn=f
18.1.2.4Dm.xr=f
18.1.3.4Dm.kA=f
18.2.AuxiliaryVerbs
18.2.1.aHa.n
18.2.2.2pr.n
18.2.3.PA(w)

xxviii

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

18.2.4.Jrj
18.2.5.MiscellaneousNarrativePastTenseConstructions
18.3.The5mj.t pw jrj.n=fConstruction
18.4.ComplexPossession
18.4.1.Nominal
18.4.2.Adjectival

18.4.3.Adverbial
18.5.IdiomswiththeGenitivalnj
18.5.1.Genitivalnj +NominalsDm=f / sDm.n=f
18.5.2.Genitivalnj +PrepositionalPhrase

18.6.Corroboration

18.7.RelativeVerbForms

18.7.1.Morphology

18.7.2.Usage

18.8.NegationofParticiplesandRelativeForms

18.9.TheOfferingFormula

Vocabulary

Exercises

FurtherReading

PartTwo.Reading

Introduction
HieraticFacsimile
TheShipwreckedSailor

HieroglyphicTextandCommentary

Bibliography
PartThree.FurtherResources

R1.TableofBiconsonantalSigns

R2.TableofTriconsonantalSigns

R3.ListofBasicPrepositions

R4.TablesofVerbs

R5.Lexicon

R6.SignLists

R6.1.MasterSignList

R6.2.IndextoHieroglyphicSignList

R6.3.SignsArrangedbyShape

Epilogue

SomeWordswithaMummy
xxix

CONTENTS

xxx

Preface

Theaimsofthisbookareprimarilypedagogical:theapproachmaybenovel,butIcanmake
nosuchclaimformostofthecontent.Itisnotthepurposeofanintroductorygrammartopropose
new solutions to linguistic problems, even when, as is the case withMiddle Egyptian, certain
fundamentalsofthelanguageremaincontested.BeyondpersonalexperiencewithMiddleEgyp
tiantexts,theprincipalgrammarsfromwhichIhavedrawnthedetailsofthelessonsarelisted
below.1DespitethecurrentstateofdisagreementonmanyaspectsofMiddleEgyptian,theac
countofferedinthisbookamodifiedversionofHansPolotskysStandardTheoryreflects
theemergentsensuscommunisofotherexpertsinthefield.Wherenoagreementcouldbefound,
IhavedeferredingeneraleithertoM.MalaiseandJ.WinandsGrammaireraisonnedelgyptien
classiqueortoJ.F.Borghouts,Egyptian.
MyexperienceteachingMiddleEgyptiantostudentsattheUniversityofCalifornia,Santa
Cruz,overthepastfifteenyearshasconfirmedthatthereiswidespreadinterestinlearningto
read hieroglyphs among American undergraduates todayand it is to them that this book is
principally addressed. Indeed, the first time that I introduced the course, more than three
hundred students attempted to register for the class: generally, I accept somewhere between
seventyfive and one hundred. Although only two dozen or so may continue to pursue their
studyofMiddleEgyptiantointermediateoradvancedlevels,substantialnumbersremaininter
estedinstudyingthelanguageforoneacademicterm.Itis,inmyopinion,adisservicetothe
legacyofancientEgypttotargetlanguageclassesonlytothosefewwhomaywanttopursuea
careerinEgyptology.Hence,thisbookisaselfcontainedtentofifteenweekintroductiontothe
languageandliteratureoftheMiddleKingdom,suitableforclassroomuseaswellasselftuition.
Accordingly,keystoallexercisesareprovidedintheback.
Thecourseisorganizedsothataftereighttonineweeksofgrammaticalstudy,students
candevotetheremainingportionoftheacademictermtoreadingintheoriginalMiddleEgyptian
thestoryknowntodayasTheShipwreckedSailor.Althoughallbasiclinguisticpointsareco
veredinthegrammar,onlythoseaspectsofthelanguagenecessarytoreadingthisparticulartalereceive
extended discussion; wherever possible, all other grammatical are deferred for more advanced
studyofthelanguage,wherestudentswillencounterawidervarietyoftextsandgenres.Hence,
the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax covered in this book have been designed specifically to
dovetailwiththereadingandexpositionofthisparticulartale.Formoststudents,thisistheonly
formalexposuretoclassicalEgyptianthattheywilleverhave.Withinasingleterm,however,
theynotonlylearnthebasicsofthelanguageandthewritingsystem,buttheygoontostudya
Thisconstitutesthesoleacknowledgmentofmydebttotheseuniformlyexcellentpublications.Occasion
ally, where the presentation of a grammatical point seemed to me particularly helpful or the language
particularlyfelicitous,IhaveparaphrasedtheformulationthoughalwayswithinthelimitsofUScopy
rightlaw.IamparticularlyobligatedtoJ.Hoch,MiddleEgyptianGrammar(Mississauga,Canada:Society
fortheStudyofEgyptianAntiquities,1997),J.F.Borghouts,Egyptian:AnIntroductiontotheWritingandthe
LanguageoftheMiddleKingdom,2vols.(Leuven:Peeters,2010),andJ.Allen,MiddleEgyptian,3rdedition
(Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress,2014).Withoutthesepredecessors,thisbookwhoseaimsare
verydifferentwouldscarcelyhavebeenpossible.WhereIhavereliedparticularlycloselyononeauthor
oranother,Ihaveacknowledgedthiswithafootnoteinthelesson.
1

xxxiii

PREFACE

complexliterarycomposition.Ineffect,thisallowsstudentstolearnbothaforeignlanguageand
thethoughtsystemofaforeigncultureuptoarelativelyhighdegreeofproficiencywithinthe
boundsoftentofifteenweeks.
All examples in this grammar and all of the hieroglyphic exercises that conclude the
lessons are based on sentences that occur in the extant corpus of Middle Egyptian literature.
Often, however, I have simplified the original constructions or substituted vocabulary and
phrasesintroducedinthisbookforthemorediffusematerialofthesources.Wherewritingswere
abbreviated,Ihavesometimesfilledthemout.Thepracticeofonlycitingsamplesentencesver
batimfromMiddleEgyptiansourcesislaudableandappropriateforreferencegrammars,butit
tends to confuse beginning students who need a core set of wordsand some consistency in
spellingtoworkwithinstraightforwardpresentationsofthegrammaticalconstructions.One
does not begin the study of the French language by translating sentences from Baudelaire or
Proust.toiquejeusseaime,toiquilesavais!doesnotconstitutethemoststraightforward
introductiontotheFrenchimparfait.BecausethisgrammarisgearedtowardthereadingofThe
ShipwreckedSailor,Ihave,whereverpossible,usedvocabularyandexamplesfromthatorother
MiddleEgyptiantales.InsomeinstancesIhavecombinedthemainclausefromonesourcewith
asubordinateclausefromanother.EgyptologistsandotherswhohavereadwidelyinMiddle
Egyptian literature will recognize many old friends, butgiven the goals of this grammarI
have not thought it necessary to identify the provenance of formulations whose originals the
studentswillinmanycasesfinditratherdifficulttoaccess.
Thisbookwouldnothavebeenpossiblewithouttheinputfromthemanystudentswhom
Ihavetaughtfrom2001to2015.ParticularthanksgotoDr.RuthKramer,atGeorgetownUni
versity,whonotonlyworkedwithmeontheintroductorysectiononphonology,butalsooffered
numeroussuggestionsforrevision.ItisalsoapleasuretoacknowledgeZachCavanaugh,Monica
ChinPerez,andDavidLawsonwhoworkedoutthebasicformatofthetextandcommentaryon
TheShipwreckedSailor.EricBerry,StefaniadeKenessey,KateEklund,EllenFonoroff,Linda
Gluck,UllaHaselstein,WilliamRubel,andJessicaShen,allmadesubstantialcontributionstothe
projectatvariousstagesofproduction,anditisanhonortorecognizethemhere.Thededication
tothebookservesasanindextomygreatestdebt.

Bibliography

J.Allen.TheEgyptianLanguage:AHistoricalStudy.Cambridge,2013.
.MiddleEgyptian.Thirdedition.Cambridge,2014.
H.Altenmller.EinfhrungindieHieroglyphenschrift.2nded.Hamburg,2010.
H.Amstutz,etal.FuzzyBoundariesI.Hamburg,2015.
J.Borghouts.Egyptisch:EeninleidingintaalenschriftvanhetMiddenrijk.2volumes.Leiden,1993.
.Egyptian:AnIntroductiontotheWritingandLanguageoftheMiddleKingdom.2vols.Leuven,
2010.
M.Brose.GrammatikderdokumentarischenTextedesMittlerenReiches.Hamburg,1014.
A.deBuck.GrammairelmentaireduMoyengyptien.Leiden,1982[1952].
L.Depuydt.FundamentalsofEgyptianGrammar:Elements.Norton,Mass.,1999.

xxxiv

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

E.Doret.TheNarrativeVerbalSystemofOldandMiddleEgyptian.Geneva,1986.
G.Englund.MiddleEgyptian:AnIntroduction.Secondedition.Uppsala,1995.
A.Gardiner.EgyptianGrammar.Thirdedition.Oxford,1957.
E.Graefe.MittelgyptischeGrammatikfrAnfnger.Sixthedition.RevisedbyJ.Kahl.Wiesbaden,
2001.
P.GrandetandB.Mathieu.Coursdgyptienhiroglyphique.Rev.edition.Paris,2003.
B.Gunn.StudiesinEgyptianSyntax.Ed.R.S.Simpson.Oxford,2012.
J.Hoch.MiddleEgyptianGrammar.Mississauga,Canada,1997.
K.JansenWinkeln.SptmittelgyptischeGrammatik.Wiesbaden,1996.
G.JeanPierre.Lgyptienhiroglyphique.Nrvenich,2012.
H.Jenni.LehrbuchderklassischgyptischenSprache.Basel,2010.
A.Loprieno.AncientEgyptian.ALinguisticIntroduction.Cambridge,1995.
M.MalaiseandJ.Winand.Grammaireraisonnedelgyptienclassique.Lige,1999.
F.J.MartnValentn.GrammticaEgipcia.Madrid,2003.
B.Menu.PetiteGrammairedelgyptienhiroglyphiquelusagedesdbutants.Paris,2002.
C.Obsomer.gyptienHiroglyphique.Bruxelles,2009.
B.Ockinga.AConciseGrammarofMiddleEgyptian.Mainz,1998.
W.Schenkel.TbingerEinfhrungindieklassischgyptischeSpracheundSchrift.Tbingen,2005.
A.Stauder.TheEarlierEgyptianPassive:VoiceandPerspective.Hamburg,2014.
L.Zonhoven.MiddelEgyptischeGrammatica.2volumes.Leuven,2010.

LinguaAegyptia:JournalofEgyptianLanguageStudies1.1991.Hamburg.

xxxv

PREFACE

Ostracon
HieraticSchoolExercise
CopyoffourlettersoftheVizierKhay
activeunderRamessesII

xxxvi

MAP

Fig. 1. Major sites in classical Egypt

xxxvii

HistoricalChronology

PredynasticEgypt

priorto3000BCE

ArchaicEgypt:DynastiesIII

ca.30002650

OldKingdom:DynastiesIIIVIII
DynastyIII26502590
DynastyIV25902470
DynastyV24702320
DynastyVI23202160

FirstIntermediatePeriod:DynastyVIIXI

MiddleKingdom:DynastiesXIXIV
DynastyXI20401990
DynastyXII19901785

SecondIntermediateperiod:DynastiesXVXVII

DynastiesXIIIXIV17851650

DynastiesXVXVI16501550

NewKingdom:DynastiesXVIIXX

DynastyXVII 15601552

DynastyXVIII 15521306

DynastyXIX 13061186

DynastyXX
11861070

ThirdIntermediatePeriod:DynastiesXXIXXV

DynastyXXI
1070945

DynastiesXXIIXXIV(Libyans) 945712

DynastyXXV(Nubians)712664

Lateperiod:DynastiesXXVIXXX664341

DynastyXXVI(SaitePeriod)664525

DynastyXXVII(Persians)525404

DynastiesXXVIIIXXX404343

DynastyXXXI(Persians)343332

GreekPeriod

AlexandertheGreat
332323

PtolemaicPeriod33230

RomanPeriod

ByzantinePeriod

IslamicEgypt

ca.26502135

xxxviii

ca.21602040
ca.20401650

ca.17851550

ca.15601070

ca.1070656

33230BCE

30BCE359CE
359641

641present

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Abbreviations

Allen
J.P.Allen,MiddleEgyptian,secondedition(Cambridge,2010)
ArOr
ArchivOrientln(Prague)
ASAE
AnnalesduServicedesAntiquitsdelEgypt(Cairo)
BIFOA
BulletindelInstitutFranaisdArchologieOrientale(Cairo)
Borghouts
J.F.Borghouts,Egpytisch,2vols.(Leuven,1993)
Callender
J.B.Callender,MiddleEgyptian(Malibu,1975)
CdE
Chroniquedgypte(Brussels)
Depuydt,CCC L.Depuydt,ConjunctionContiguityContingency(NewYork,1993)
Faulkner
R.O.Faulkner,AConciseDictionaryofMiddleEgyptian(Oxford,1962)
Gardiner A.Gardiner,EgyptianGrammar,thirdedition(Oxford,1957)
GM
GttingerMiszellen(Gttingen)
Hannig,PsP R.Hannig,PseudopartizipundsDm.n=f(Hildesheim,1991)
Hoch
J.Hoch,MiddleEgyptianGrammar(Mississauga,1997)
Hock
H.Hock,PrinciplesofHistoricalLinguistics(Berlin,1991)
IOS
IsraelOrientalStudies(TelAviv)
JARCE
JournaloftheAmericanResearchCenterinEgypt(Boston)
JEA
JournalforEgyptianArchaeology(London)
JNES
JournalofNearEasternStudies(Chicago)
JOAC
JournalofAncientCivilizations(Changchun)
JAOS
JournaloftheAmericanOrientalSociety(AnnArbor)
Kemp
B.Kemp,100Hieroglyphs:ThinkLikeanEgyptian(NewYork,2005)
L

Lexikondergyptologie,7vols.(Wiesbaden,197592)
LingAeg
LinguaAegyptia(Gttingen)

MalaiseWinand M.MalaiseandJ.Winand,Grammarireraisonnedelgyptienclassique
MDAIK
MitteilungendesdeutseschenInstitutsfrgyptischenAltertumskundeinKairo
MIO
MitteilungendesInstitutsfrOrientforschung(Berlin)
OLP
OrientaliaLovaniensiaPeriodica(Leuven)
OLZ
OrientalistischeLiteraturzeitung(Berlin,Leipzig)
Or.
Orientalia(Rome)
OrAnt
OriensAntiquus(Rome)
Polotsky,G
H.J.Polotsky,GrundlagendeskoptischenSatzbaus,2vols.(Atlanta,198690)
Polotsky,P
H.J.Polotsky,CollectedPapers(Jerusalem,1971)
Polotsky,T
H.J.Polotsky,Lestranspositionsduverbeengyptienclassique,IOS6

(1976):150
RdE
Revuedgyptologie(Cairo,Paris)
SAK
StudienzurAltgyptischeKultur(Hamburg)
Uljas,EECC
S.Uljas,TheModalSystemofEarlierEgyptianComplementClauses(Leiden,

2007)
ZS
ZeitschriftfrgyptischeSpracheundAltertumskunde(Leipzig,Berlin)
ZDMG
ZeitschriftderDeutschenMorgenlndischenGesellschaft(Leipzig,Wiesbaden)

xxxix

xl

PartOne

Grammar

Introduction

I1.AfroasiaticLanguages

AlongtraditionintheWest,extendingfromPlatosPhilebus(c.350BCE)downthrough
W.A.MozartsDieZauberflte(1791CE),consideredEgyptianafantasticlanguagewithidio
syncraticpropertiesofitsown.TheHellenisticrhetoricianDemetrius,forexample,inhistreatise
OnStyle,reports:InEgyptthepriests,whensinginghymnsinpraiseofthegods,employthe
sevenvowels(phnenta)whichtheyutterinsuccession.Thesoundoftheseletters(grammata)
aresoeuphoniousthatmenlistentotheminpreferencetothefluteandlyre.Todoawaywith
thisconcurrence,therefore,istodoawayentirelywiththemusicandtheharmonyofspeech
[2.71].Likewise,theCorpusHermeticum,acollectionofGreekwisdomtextsthathascomedown
tousfromthehighRomanEmpire,representsAsclepius,theGreekgodofhealing,writingto
KingAmmon,i.e.,thesupremeEgyptiangodofKarnak,AmunR`:

Whenexpressedinitsoriginallanguage,anEgyptiantextpreservesthepurespiritofthe
words.FortheveryqualityofthesoundandthepronunciationoftheEgyptianlanguage
carriesinitselfthepowerofwhatisbeingspoken.Therefore,OKing,asfarasitisinyour
power,andyourpowerisunlimited,pleaseensurethatthesetextsarenottranslated,in
order that their mysteries donot reach the Greeks. For the arrogant, loose, and showy
style of the Greek language, will sap the majesty and strength of the Egyptian which
preservesthepowerofthewords.TheGreeks,OKing,useemptywordswhichproduce
meredisplays.ThatisthephilosophyoftheGreeks:anoiseofwords.Egyptiansdonot
usesuchlanguagebutsoundsfullofpower.[16.2]

Oneoftheironieshere,ofcourse,isthattheletterfromAsclepiusisitselfwritteninGreek,though
itpurportsagainstitsownadmonitionstohavebeentranslatedfromEgyptian.
TheEgyptiansthemselveshadnospecialnamefortheirlanguage.Theycalleditsimply
rA nj Km.t,thatis:thespeechoftheblack[land],i.e.,theNileValley. Todayweknowthatitis
amemberofthelargefamilyofAfroasiaticlanguages.Olderscholarship,whichclearlyshows
the impress of European colonialism, divided this family into two branches: Semitic (spoken
mainly by white people) and Hamitic (spoken mainly by people of color). Egyptian was
assignedtotheHamiticbranch.Postcolonialscholarsnowrecognizethatthisasafalsedichoto
my,moreracistthanreal.LikeIndoEuropean,Afroasiatic isthenameforagroupofwidely
disseminatedlanguages,allhistoricallyrelatedandperhapsderivedfromasinglesource.Today
Afroasiaticincludes375livinglanguages,spokenbyroughly350millionpeoplespreadacross
theMaghreb,theHornofAfrica,andSouthwestAsia,aswellaspartsoftheSahelandEastAfrica.
BothHebrewandHausa,forinstance,areAfroasiaticlanguages.Inadditiontothelanguagesstill
spoken today, Afroasiatic included a number of ancient languages, e.g., Akkadian, Eblaite,
Ugaritic,Phoenician,Punic,OldEthiopic(Ge`ez),Libyac,andclassicalEgyptian.
ContemporaryscholarsdisagreeashowbesttoclassifytheAfroasiaticlanguagesfrom
within,butmostrecognizesixmainbranchesofthefamily:Omotic,Cushitic,Chadic,Egyptian,
Berber, and Semitic. Middle Egyptian would be about as closely related to modern Arabic as

INTRODUCTION

SanskritistocontemporaryFrenchwhichistosaythattherehavebeenenormousvariations
withinthelanguagefamilyacrossspaceandovertime.Nevertheless,numerouscognatespersist
across the major branches of the family. For example, derivatives of a reconstructed Proto
Afroasiatic*lstongueincludeSemitic(*lisn),classicalEgyptian(ns,*ls),Coptic(las),Berber
(ils), Omotic (lits to lick). Similarly, one can see the clear relationship between the Egyptian
triliteralrootmwtanditsvariousSemiticcounterpartsallofwhichmeantodie:

Egyptian:
mwt
Akkadian: mtu
Assyrian:
mutu
Ugaritic:
mt
Hebrew:
mwt
Aramaic:
mt
OldEthiopic: mt
Nabataean: mwt
Arabic:
mt

Berber:
mmet
Bura:
mt
Hausa:
mutua
Maltese:
miet

In addition, thereare many affinities between the grammatical features of these languagesa
lexicon heavily based on biconsonantal and triconsonantal roots, a complex system of suffix
pronouns,andsoon.Forexample,thesuffixpronounforthesecondpersonmasculinesingular
iskinEgyptian,kainArabic,andkinBerber.Similarly,theexternalpluralmarkerinEgyptian,
Chadic,Berber,andCushiticisw.NoAfroasiaticlanguagesare(orwere)writtenintheLatin
alphabet except Maltese. It is likely, however, that mostAfroasiatic scripts derived originally
from Egyptian hieroglyphs by way of protoSinaitic. Some scholars believe that the Indo
EuropeanandtheAfroasiaticlanguagesaredistantlyrelatedthroughProtoWorld,butthere
isnoconsensusonthissubjectatthemoment.

I.Diakonoff.SemitoHamiticLanguages:AnEssayinClassification.Moscow,1965.
C.Ehret.ReconstructingProtoAfroasiatic(ProtoAfrasian).Berkeley,1995.
Z.FrajzyngierandE.Shay.TheAfroasiaticLanguages.Cambridge,2012.
J.Greenberg.TheLanguagesofAfrica.Secondedition.Bloomington,1966.
.IndoEuropeanandItsClosestRelatives:TheEurasiaticLanguageFamily.2vols.Stanford,200002.
B.Heineetal.,eds.DieSprachenAfrikas.Volume2,AfroAsiatisch.Hamburg,1981.
C.Hodge,ed.Afroasiatic:ASurvey.TheHague,1971.
E.Lutz.SemiticandAfroasiatic:ChallengesandOpportunities.Wiesbaden,2012.
C.Miller.StudiesinSemiticandAfroasiaticLinguisticsPresentedtoGeneGragg.Chicago,2007.
M.Ruhlen.AGuidetotheWorldsLanguage.Stanford,Calif.,1991.
.TheOriginofLanguage:TracingtheEvolutionoftheMotherTongue.NewYork,1994.
G.Takcs,TowardstheAfroasiaticEtymologyofEgyptianzToWrite,BSOAS63(2000),26173.

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

.ed.EgyptianandSemitoHamitic(Afroasiatic)Studies.Leiden,2004.
.StudiesinAfroasiaticComparativePhonology:Consonants.Berlin,2012.

I2.TheEgyptianLanguage

Egyptian,oneofthesixprincipalbranchesofAfroasiatic,istheindigenouslanguageof
Km.t,theBlackLand,knowngenerallytodayasEgypt.WhenEgyptiandivergedfromcom
mon protoAfroasiatic is a matter of speculation, but certainly by the fourth millennium BCE,
EgyptianspeakershadmovednorthwarddowntheNilevalley.Writtenrecordsbegintoappear
around3400BCE.ThismakesEgyptianoneoftheoldestwrittenlanguagesintheworld.Itwas
widelyspokenupthroughtheseventhcenturyCE,whenArabicbegantoreplaceit,andsurvives
todayastheliturgicallanguageoftheCopticOrthodoxChurch.
Basedonthewrittenrecord,scholarsdividetheEgyptianlanguageintothreebroadhis
toricalcategoriesArchaic,Earlier,andLaterEgyptianwiththefollowingsubdivisions:

________________________________________________________________________

1.ArchaicEgyptian

32nd27thc.BCE
__________________________________________________________________________________

2.EarlierEgyptian

OldEgyptian

ArchaicOldEgyptian

StandardOldEgyptian

NeoOldEgyptian

27th22ndc.BCE
25th21stc.BCE
7thc.BCE

MiddleEgyptian

EarlyMiddleEgyptian
23rd20thc.BCE

ClassicalMiddleEgyptian
21st14thc.BCE

LateMiddleEgyptian
20th13thc.BCE

TransitionalMiddleEgyptian 15th12thc.BCE

NeoMiddleEgyptian
11thc.BCE4thc.CE
__________________________________________________________________________________

3.LaterEgyptian

LateEgyptian

LateEgyptianI

LateEgyptianII

14th12thc.BCE
13th7thc.BCE

Demotic
EarlyDemotic

MiddleDemotic

LateDemotic/OldCoptic

Coptic

StandardCoptic

LateCoptic

NeoCoptic

8th4thc.BCE

4th1stc.BCE
1stc.BCE5thc.CE

3rd12thc.CE

11th16thc.CE

19th20thc.CE

INTRODUCTION

AlthoughArchaicEgyptianinscriptionsrangeasfarbackasthemiddleofthefourthmillennium
BCE,littleisknownaboutthisstageofthelanguage.OldandMiddleEgyptian,however,are
wellattestedandturnout,infact,tobequitesimilar.Thereareafewchangesintheverbalsystem,
differentsetsofparticlesinuse,andsomedivergencesinsyntax,butforthemostpart,tojudge
by the written record, the two main phases of earlier Egyptian remained fairly close. Middle
EgyptiancontinuedtobewrittenintotheearlypartoftheNewKingdom(theEighteenthDynas
ty),althoughbythispointthelanguagehadundergonesignificantchanges.LateEgyptianreflects
thespokenlanguageoftheNewKingdom,andthedialectsattestedinsubsequentperiodsall
clearlyderivefromLateEgyptian.ThemajorbreakintheevolutionoftheEgyptianlanguage,
then,isbetweenMiddleandLateEgyptian.
By the Saite Period (i.e., the Twentysixth Dynasty), the spoken language had further
evolvedintothethirdphaseofclassicalEgyptian,whichscholarsconventionallycallDemotic,
followedfromthefirstcenturyBCEonbyCoptic.Throughouttheentiretyofthelaterperiod,
however, Middle Egyptian continued to be written, largely as a monumental language, with
varyingadjustmentstotheclassicalidiom,hypercorrections,andmistakes.

J.Allen.TheAncientEgyptianLanguage:AHistoricalStudy.Cambridge,2013.
.MiddleEgyptian.3rdedition.Cambridge,2014.
E.Edel.AltgyptischeGrammatik.2volumes.Rome,195564.
K.JansenWinkeln.SptmittelgyptischeGrammatik.Wiesbaden,1996.
J.Johnson.ThusWrote`Onchsheshonqy:AnIntroductoryGrammarofDemotic.Thirdedition.Chicago,2000.
F.Junge.LateEgyptianGrammar.Oxford,2005.
D.Kurth.EinfhrunginsPtolemische.2vols.Htzel,200708.
B.Layton.ACopticGrammar.Wiesbaden,2000.
C.Reintges.CopticEgyptian(SahidicDialect).Cologne,2004.
A.Loprieno.AncientEgyptian:ALinguisticIntroduction.Cambridge,1995.

I3.SpokenEgyptianandWrittenEgyptian

HowclosewrittenEgyptianofanyperiodwastothespokenlanguageremainsamatterof
somecontroversy.ClearlythewrittenlanguagewasalwaysaSchriftsprachethatis,astylized
versionofspeechthatdidnotcorrespondpreciselytothegrammar,syntax,orvocabularyofthe
spokenidiom.ThedistanceisincreasedbythefactthatmostofthetextsfromancientEgyptthat
surviveareofficial,annalistic,literary,orreligious,andasanyonewhohastriedtoreadthrough
anactofCongress,alegalcontract,orevenasonnetbyMiltonknowsSchriftsprachecanbequite
farremovedfromtheconversationalidiom.Imagineapproachingawomanatashoppingmall
andsayingtoher:Thoustillunravishdbrideofquietness,thoufosterchildofsilenceandslow
time.Eithershewillthinkthatyouaredaftorrealizeyouarespeakingpoetry.Ineithercase
unlessshejusthappenstohavebeenreadingKeatsitislikelythatshewonthavethefoggiest
ideaofwhatyouaretalkingabout.
Similarly, there is no reason why we should expect the literary remains from ancient
EgypttobeanyclosertocommonparlancethanKeatssOdeonaGrecianUrnwouldhave
beentotheEnglishspokenatthecourtofGeorgeIII,muchlessthelanguageofacharwoman
fromIpswichin1819.Keatssdictionisnotonlyhighlyrhetorical;itisdeliberatelyarchaizing

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

afeaturethatalsocolorsagoodmany(ifnotmost)ofthesurvivingtextsfromancientEgypt.
Although the Middle Egyptian written in the EleventhandTwelfth Dynasties may have been
relativelyclosetooneormoreofthedialectsspokenintheNilevalleyduringthisperiod,later
eras canonized its written form as the classical language of the country. Long after Middle
Egyptian ceased to be spoken, it continued to be used for inscriptional and literary purposes,
thoughoftenwithanadmixtureofcontemporaryspeech.Althoughconsideredextinctafterthe
Second Intermediate Period, Middle Egyptian continued to be used down to the last datable
hieroglyphicinscriptionintheByzantineera.
AlreadybytheearlyNewKingdom,scribesdidnotacceptallMiddleEgyptiantextsas
normative; rather, they made a canonical selection among the documents available to them,
whichsuggeststhatcertainfeaturesofEleventhandTwelfthDynastyusagewereacceptedas
classical,whileotherswererejectedoravoided.ForabriefperiodaftertheEighteenthDynasty,
scribesexperimentedwithwritingliterarytextsinaversionofLateEgyptianclosertothespoken
idiomofthatperiod,butnoneofthesepoems,tales,autobiographies,orwisdomtextsseemsto
haveenteredthecanonicalcurriculuminthelongrun.BeginningwiththeThirdIntermediate
period,scribesreturnedtocompositionintheclassicallanguage.
In later periods, scribes persistently endeavored to write good Middle Egyptian, al
though they often made grammatical mistakes, employed false archaisms, and showed
inelegance of style, much as European intellectuals continued to write Latin well into the
nineteenthcenturyand,toamorelimitedextent,today.

I4.ScriptsoftheEgyptianLanguages

ThedevelopmentoftheEgyptianwritingsystemwaspartandparceloftheconsolidationofa
unifiedEgyptianstate.Overthecoursenearlyfivemillennia,Egyptianscribesdevelopedfour
scriptswithwhichtowritetheirlanguage,bothatvariousstagesofitsdevelopmentandfor
different purposes. In the Classical period, training began with Hieratic and proceeded to
Hieroglyphs, although students today generally reverse that order, finding Hieratic more
difficulttoreadandcertainlytowrite:

1. Hieroglyphic(<Greek[grmmata]hierogluphikholycarvings):Hieroglyphsareicons,
whichresemblewhattheyrepresent.Normally,however,theydonotfunctionaspicto
grams.Thatistosay,theglyph clearlyrepresentsadungbeetle,butmorecommonly
itstandsforthesoundsequencexpr (seebelow).Forthemostpart,hieroglyphswere
carvedinstone,althoughsometimestheywerealsopaintedorwrittencursivelyonpa
pyrus. The earliest monumental hieroglyphic inscriptions date to the First Dynasty.
Egyptianscalledthisformofwriting
mdw-nTr (godsspeech).Anindividualglyph
wascalled
tjt.

2. Hieratic (< Greek [grmmata] hieratik priestly script): As opposed to Hieroglyphic,


Hieraticisacursivescriptprimarilyappliedbypenonpapyrusoronanostraconthat
is,abrokenpotsherdorfragmentofstone.Itisamistaketothinkthathieraticdeveloped

INTRODUCTION

outofhieroglyphs,sincehieraticappearsearlierinthearcheologicalrecordthanhiero
glyphic. In fact, the oldest extant texts from Egyptwhich date to the Predynastic
Periodwereproducedwithinkandbrush,withnoindicationthatthesignsdescended
from hieroglyphs. Rather, the two writing systems seem to have developed conjointly
sidebyside,eachreservedfordifferentuses.Onlyrarelywereinscriptionswrittenon
hardstoneinhieraticscript,whichservedformorecommonplace,everydaypurposes.
Hieraticalsoappearstohavebeencalledmdw-nTr (godsspeech).

3. Demotic(<Greek[grmmata]dmotikpopular
writing): A development of the Late Period
(postseventh century BCE), Demotic is a
cursive script, derivative of Hieratic but much
moreabbreviatedinform.Egyptiansemployed
Demotic both for everyday documents as well
asliteraryworks,buttherearealsomanystelae
and inscriptions. While Hieratic and cursive
Hieroglyphiccontinuedtobeusedforreligious
texts, though there are also many copies of
GoingforthbyDayandotherfuneraryliterature
in Demotic. The Egyptian term for this script
wassS n Sa.t (documentwriting).

Cuneiform,Aramaic,Carian,Greek,and
LatinwerealsousedinEgyptfromtheNew
Kingdomonforvariousadministrative
purposes.Arabic,introducedafter641CE,
remainstheprincipallanguageandscriptof
Egypttoday.Occasionally,theseother
scriptswereusedtowriteEgyptianandvice
versa.Morecommon,however,werethe
multilingualstelaeandotherdocuments
introducedbythePersiansandcontinued
underGreekandRomanrule.

4. Coptic(<Copt.kyptaios<.Grk.aigyptios,Egyptian<classicalEgyptian@w.t-KA-PtH[one
oftheancientnamesforMemphis]):AversionoftheGreekalphabet,supplementedby
several letters derived from Demotic to represent phonemes absent from the Greek
languageforexample,s(S),f(f),j(d),andc (ky).OldCopticglossesbegintoappear
inDemotictextsofthelatePtolemaicandearlyRomanera,particularlyinmagicalpapyri,
toindicatethevowelingofforeignphrases,butforthemostpartitwasChristiancom
munitiesthatadoptedanddevelopedthislaststageoftheEgyptianwritingsystemfor
theirownpurposes.

The four native Egyptian


scripts are quite distinct,
and students should at
leastbeabletodistinguish
them by sight, even if all
they can really read are
Middle Egyptian hiero
glyphs:

ArchaicHieroglyphs

ClassicalHieroglyphs

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Demotic

Hieratic

CursiveHieroglyphs

Coptic

Arabic

INTRODUCTION

Phonetic
Value

ChartofEgyptianScripts

Hieroglyph

Hieratic

Demotic

BasedonJ.Hoch,Middle
EgyptianGrammar(Tor

onto,1997),5.

Coptic

p m

ci

Forillustrativepurposes,hereisalinefromtheTaleoftheShipwreckedSailor,preservedina
hieraticmanuscriptoftheMiddleKingdomnowheldinSt.Petersburg(P.Herm.1115),witha
transcriptionofthetextintohieroglyphsbelow.1Thewriting(line154)runsfromrighttoleft.

jw pn xpr(.w) m nwj

Hieroglyphic,Hieratic,andDemoticscriptlikeunpointedHebrew,Arabic,orPersianforthe
mostpartonlyrepresentconsonantsinthewriting.AlthoughEgyptianhieroglyphsarenotim
mediatelyrelatedtoeithertheSemitic(Hebrew/Syriac/Arabic)ortheGreekandRomanalpha
bets,theyservedinpartastheirinspiration.Manyhieroglyphicandhieraticsignswereusedin
theancientPhoeniciansyllabaryofByblos(c.2000BCE)whicheventuallyevolvedintoboththe
GreekandLatinalphabets,aswellasintothevariousscriptsofNorthAfricaandtheMiddleEast.
Ascanbereadilyseenoninspection,Copticisalatealphabeticscriptthatrepresentsnotonlythe
consonants,butalsothevowelsofthetext.Onewouldnotnecessarilyguessatfirstglance,more
over,thatwrittenModernStandardArabicisadistantdescendentoftheClassicalEgyptianwri
tingsystems.

I5.TheHieroglyphicWritingSystem

Aftertheabilitytoreadandwritehieroglyphswaslost,sometimeinthefifthcenturyCE,
twotheoriesprevailedastohowthewritingsystemworked.Someantiquariansheldthathiero
glyphsweresymbolic,thateachsignrepresentedauniquething,concept,ornexusofideas.
Othersheldthatthesystemwasphonetic.Thekeytotheirdecipherment,however,whichcame
SeeW.C.Poe,AnintroductiontohieraticMiddleEgyptianthroughthetextofTheShipwreckedSailor(Santa
Rosa,2010).

10

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

in1822,wastherecognitionbyThomasYoungandJeanFranoisChampollionthatthehierogly
phicscriptwasinfactboth:acomplexwritingsystemthatmadeusenotonlyoficonicimages,
butalsoofarbitrarysignsforsounds.LikesomuchinEgyptianculturalideology,hieroglyphs
arebasedontheprincipleofaconjunctionthatisbothasymmetricandmorethanthesumofits
parts.Hieroglyphsarebothimageandsoundatthesametime,andthereadingofthescriptre
quiresconstantattentiontoboth.
Whilethearcheologicalrecorddoesnotpermitustodeterminepreciselyhowthisdual
semioticsystemevolved(sound+image),wecanobserve,inthefirstinstance,thatmostglyphs
are iconic in C. S. Peirces sense of signs whose relation to their objects consists in a
correspondenceinfact(W2.56).Thatistosay,theglyphresembleswithwhateveramountof
abstractionanobjectasperceivedinthephenomenalworld.Afewglyphs,however,abstract
entirelyfromnature,whichmakesthemwhatPeircecalledsymbols:

C.S.Peirce,OnSigns,

ed.J.Hoopes.
Charlottesville,1991.

Someglyphswerecarvedwithahighdegreeof
naturalisticdetail,someappliedwithpaint,makingit
possible,forexample,toidentifytheprecisespeciesof
birdorsnakeinquestion.Eventhevultureandtheco
bra to the left, however, both display a considerable
degreeofstylization.Morecommonly,however,objects
werepicturedinaschematicfashion.
Beyond this, we can observe that from the Ar
chaic down to the Roman era Egyptian scribes gen
eratedhieroglyphsaccordingtofourbasicprinciples:

Logography
Phonography
Cryptography
Acrophony

1. Logography.ThesimplestformoftheEgyptianhieroglyphisthelogogram.Logograms
areiconsthatrepresentanobjectoranactionbaseduponpictorialresemblance.Forexample,
thefollowingsigns,independentoftheirpronunciation,lookatleastschematicallyliketheobjects
oractionsthattheyname:

dSr flamingo

s.t throne

wrr.tchariot

aSA lizard

od tobuild

mnD breast

11

INTRODUCTION

Itwouldbeamistake,however,toconcludethatlogogramsrenderEgyptianhieroglyphsauni
versal language, immediately intelligible to all nonvisually impaired human subjects, as is
sometimesstillclaimedaboutthecinematoday.Inbothcases,conventionandstylizationstill
playasignificantmediatingrole.Thesign
ra inactualitylooksnothinglikethesun,butcon
formstoapreexistentmentalabstractionofthatliterallyunviewablecelestialbody.

2. Phonography.Forreasonsthatareobvious,scribeslargelydevelopedlogogramsfrom
objectsthatappeartobephenomenallyconcrete,forexample
a (arm).Toexpressnou
menalideas,however,aswellaslexicalitemsbeyondiconicnounsandverbs,scribesresortedto
whatsomescholarscalltherebusprinciple.Thisworksasfollows:awordthathadthesameroot
consonantscouldstandinfortermsthatitwouldbedifficulttoportraydirectly.Forexample:

thelogogramforduck

(sA)wasusedtowritethenounbrother(sA).

thelogogramforlung

(smA)wasusedtowritetheverbtounite(smA).

thelogogramforface

(Hr)wasusedtowritetheprepositionon(Hr).

thelogogramfortofound

(grg) wasusedtowritethenounlie(grg).2

Inthiswaymostlogogramsalsoserveasphonograms,representingaseriesofconsonants,ap
plicabletothewritingofanyotherwordthathasthissamesoundorsoundsequence.Sofor
example,thelogogramforcord(Ss)becomesaphonogramforalabaster,whichcanbeused
furthertoconveythesoundSsinotherphoneticenvironments.

Ss cord Ss alabaster

jSst "what?

InalllikelihoodthevowelingforSs (cord)differedfromthevowelingforSs(alabaster),but
since for the most part vowels were not recorded in the script, we do not know how Middle
Egyptianspeakerswouldhavedistinguishedthetwowordsintheirpronunciation.

3. Cryptography.Cryptogramsaregraphicpuzzlesthatcanbedecodedintootherwordsor
phraseswithdifferentvocalizationandmeaningthanreaderswouldnormallyexpect.Forexam
ple, the logogram
tp (head) could stand for the number seven (sfx) because the head has
sevenopeningstwoeyes,twoears,twonostrils,andthemouth. Anothercommoncryptogram
showsahornedviper(whichnormallyrepresentstheconsonant[f])crawlingoutofaglyphthat
reversesoneofthesignsthatrepresentstheconsonant[m].Thecluster,however,doesnotread
*fmof*mf,butabstractsfromthesephonemestoproveacryptogramfortheverbemerge(prj):

Theglyphrepresentsapickaxeexcavatingapool.

12

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Phonogram:

[m]

Phonogram:
[f]

Cryptogram:
prj toemerge

SincecryptogramsmainlyappearinLateMiddleEgyptiantextscomposedprimarilyfromthe
NewKingdomdownthroughthePtolemaicandRomanperiods,theywillfeatureonlysporadi
callyinthisgrammar.

4. Acrophony.SometimeintheArchaicperiod,ifnotbefore,twentyfourhieroglyphicsigns
wereassignedthevaluesofthetwentyfourEarlierEgyptianconsonants,thusformingwhathas
been erroneously called a consonantal alphabet. It would be more precise to say that these
glyphsconstituteabasicsetofmonoconsonantalsigns.Sofaraswecantell,allacquiredtheir
phoneticvaluethroughthedeviceofacrophony,wherethefirstglyphofamulticonsonantalword
cametostandforoneofthetwentyfouruniconsonantalsignse.g.,

bw place> [b]
or
rA mouth>
[r]

Thecoregroupofuniconsonantalsignsmustbecommittedimmediatelytomemory.RulesforEgyp
tian orthography mandate that certain combinations of consonants can only be written with
particular consonantal signs. Without committing the uniconsonantal signs to memory, no
furtherprogresswiththewritingsystemispossible.Ultimately,itislessimportanttounderstand
thederivationofthesign,thantorecognizeitsphoneticvalueatsight.

I6.MonoconsonantalAcrophones

Thetableofmonoconsonantalsignsfollowsinalargelyarbitrarysequencethatmodern
scholarshavedevised.Notonlythesigns,butalsotheirordermustbelearnedcompletely,largely
becausevocabularylistsanddictionaryentriesareallorganizedaccordingtothissequence.It
arosefromolderideasaboutthepronunciationofthesignsthathavenowinmostcasesbeen
disregarded. With these ideas also arose various antiquated terms. In Table I1 below, the
erroneousnamesarecitedinbracketsafterthevalidones.Ironically,itprovesusefultolearn
theseerrorsallthesame,becausetheyarestillingeneraluse
amongmanyEgyptologiststoday.
Studythesesignsuntilrecognitionisimmediate;other
Alternativetransliterationsin
wise,itwilltakelargeamountsoftimesimplytodecodeone
bracketsrepresentvaluescom
word. Note that many signs are distinguished by very subtle
monlyfoundinotherEgyp
differences.Withbirdsinparticularthetiltoftheheadorthe
tologicalpublicationsbutnotused
rendering of the wings are crucial. Even square or oblong here.Forthetransliterationj,see
glyphs must be studied carefully, since the precise ratio of
immediatelybelowN.2
height to length of the block distinguishes one glyph from
another.

13

INTRODUCTION

TableI1UniconsonantalSigns

Transli
teration

Sign

Description

Source

Uncertain,probablya
kindof[l]or[r]

reedleaf

Nonconsonantal
indicatorofaninitialor
finalvowel,ortwo
vowelsinthemiddleofa
singleword

double
reedleaf

[j]=palatalglide,as
inyomamma

dualstrokes

[j]=palatalglide,as
inyomamma

arm

=voicedpharyngeal
fricative

j [i]

Phoneticvalue

vulture

j [y]

j [y]

A Egyptian
vulture

j reeds

Name

Vulture
[Aleph]

Reedleaf

Doublereedleaf

Obliquestrokes

aAyin
aarm

quailchick

[w]asinwigwam

[unknown]

Quailchick

cursivew

Sameasquailchick

Hieratic

HieraticW

foot

[b]asinbotox

stool

[p]asinpelvis

bw place

pstatuarybase

[f]asinfabulous

cf.Demoticfy viper

owl

[m]asinmascara

cf.Copticmoulaj
owl

water

[n]asinnarcotics

hornedviper

n.t water

14

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Sign

Transli
teration

Description

mouth

houseplan

twistedfiber
wick

placenta

doorbolt

Ha.t wick

[x]=voicelessvelarfri
cative,asinGermanach

[]=voicelesspalatal
fricative,asinGerman
ich

[s]asinsnivel

x placenta

Xt belly

s bolt

hill(incross
section)

basketwith
handle

ringstand
forvessels

breadloaf

[Unknown]

DottedH

CircleH

FlatH

BoltS

TallS

[],thesymbolforsh,
asinshafted

pool

SameasBoltS

h room

[]=voicelesspharyn
gealfricative

foldedcloth

o [q]

rA mouth

s []

Name

animalbelly
withtail

s [z]

Akindof[r],perhapsas
rrinItalianarrivederci,or
theflappedSpanishpero

[h]asinhangover

Source

Phoneticvalue

Shin

Sj lake

Uncertain,butsome
soundas[q]incar

[k]asincarp

Uncertain;perhaps[g]
asingay

Uncertain;perhaps[t]
asintomboy

oAAw

Qoph,orQ

hill

[Unknown]

[Unknown]

t bread

15

INTRODUCTION

Transli
Description
teration

Sign

hand

ropeforteth
ering

cobra

Phoneticvalue

Uncertain;perhaps[c],a
voicelesspalatalstop,a
soundlike[t]butfarther
backinthemouth

Uncertain;perhaps[d]
asinderanged

Uncertain;perhaps[]
(voicedpalatalstop),a
soundlike[d],butfur
therbackinthemouth

Source

TT.t fetterer

[Unknown]

D.t cobra

Name

Chmaortongs

Djandja,or
snake

N.1.InTableI1thephoneticvalueforeachsignisrepresentedintheInternationalPho
neticAlphabet(IPA),followedbyabriefillustrationofthesoundfromafamiliarlanguage,where
possible.ItisclearfromthetablethattheexactphoneticvaluesoftheEgyptianconsonantsareinmany
casesunknown.Someofthesecasesarediscussedinfurtherdetailbelow.

N.2.ThetransliterationsinTableI1donotdistinguishbetweenvariantsigns.Forex
ample, the reed leaf, double reed leaf, and oblique strokes are all transliterated j [pro
nouncedeitherlikeEnglishee(asinbeet)orwhenwordinitiallikey(asinyoyo)].Boththe
quailchickandhieraticWaretransliteratedw.

N.3. Originally, the signs Bolt S and Tall S were not free variants but represented
distinctsoundsinOld Egyptian(z and,respectively). InMiddleEgyptianscripts,however,
they merged so as to become alternatives and will both be transcribed here as s. Some
Egyptological publications and hieroglyphic dictionaries will distinguish transliterated z from
transliterated,althoughR.O.FaulknerdoesnotdosoinhisConciseDictionaryofMiddleEgyptian
(Oxford,1962),whichremainsthestandardlexicalreferenceforbeginningstudentsintheUnited
StatesandtheUnitedKingdomdespitethemoreuptodatelexicaltoolsnowavailableinGerman
andinFrench.

Thefollowingsignsrequirefurthercommentregardingtheirpossiblepronunciation.As
someoftheinformationintheseparagraphsistechnicalandintendedassupplementaryforthose
interestedinlinguisticmatters,studentslessconcernedwiththedetailsofphonologymaywant
toskiptotheI7.ModernClassroomPronunciation.Therecommendationsthere,bycontrast,
aresimplisticfromalinguisticpointofview,buttheywillassistthebeginningstudentinacqui
ringapassableaccentinreadingClassicalEgyptianaloud.

16

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

A Itisdifficulttodeterminewhattheexactphoneticvalueofthissignwas,becauseit
wasnolongerpronouncedbytheNewKingdomandwasalmostentirelyabsentbythetimeof
Coptic.However,itwasoftenusedtotranscribeSemiticlorr,whichhasledsomescholarsto
posit that it was some kind of liquid. In particular, C. Peust (Egyptian Phonology, 12728) has
advanced several arguments that it was a kind of r, while J. Allen (Ancient Egyptian, 3942)
suggeststhatthesoundwascloserto[]or[l].AnoldertraditionholdsthatArepresentsaglottal
stop,butitnevercorrespondstoSemiticglottalstopsintranscriptionsofSemiticwords,sothis
idea has largely been abandoned (although see G. Takcss Recent Problems of Egyptian
Historical Phonology for some etymological connections between the vulture sign and the
glottalstopinotherAfroasiaticlanguages).

jThereisnowgoodevidencetosuggestthatthereedleafwasnotaconsonantatall,
butratherasymbolwhichindicatedthatasyllableeitherbeganorendedwithavowelorthat
twovowelscametogetherinthemiddleofaword(seePeust,9789;J.Allen,MiddleEgyptian,3rd
ed.,18).Allenprovidesthefollowingtwohypotheticalexamples:jrj pertainingto=*ri;bjn
bad=bin.Others,however,continuetoholdtotheolderanalysiswhichindicatedthatthe
glyphrepresented[j]thatis,thepalatalglidewrittenasyinEnglish.Athirdpossibilityisthat
thereedleafrepresentedaglottalstop(,thesoundrepresentedbythehypheninEnglishuh
oh!).Finally,itcouldserveasthevowel[i](thesoundoftenrepresentedwithEnglishee,asin
teeth),especiallywhentranscribingforeignnames(Hoch,SemiticWords).Thegraphicvariantsof
j (doublereedleafandobliquestrokes)werealsousedsporadicallytoindicatethevowel[i]in
foreignnames.

yThedoublereedleaf,anditsvariantobliquestrokes,aredigraphsthatrepresent
thesoundyasintheEnglishpluralyall.Sporadicallytheglyphswereusedtoindicatethevowel
[i]inforeignwords.Thepracticeherewillbetotranscribethedigraphasj, occasionallyjj

a Theglyphattheleftrepresentsthesound[],avoicedpharyngealfricative.This
sounddoesnotexistinEnglishorotherIndoEuropeanlanguages,butitispresentinStandard
Arabic()andinsomedialectsofHebrew().Onegrammardescribesitrathercoarselyasthe
soundofgargling,althoughthisisoftenwhatitsoundsliketospeakerswhohavenotheardit
before.Togetasenseofhowtoproduceit,itisthesamekindofsoundastheGermansoundach,
butitisproducedmuchfartherbackinthemouth,essentiallyatthebeginningofthethroat(the
pharynx),anditisvoiced.SeeHbelowforabriefdiscussionofvoicing.Allennotesthatinsome
dialectsofMiddleEgyptianitmayhavebeenpronouncedas[d]or[](AncientEgyptian,4243).

w [and graphic variant


] The glyph at left and its graphic variant were used
occasionally to indicate the vowel [u] (the sound often transcribed as English oo, as in boo),
sometimesasasuffixandoftenwhentranscribingforeignnames.

17

INTRODUCTION

rItisworthnotingthatPeustalsoproposesthatrrepresentedtwosounds:a(dif
ferent)kindof[r]andan[l],duetoetymologicalevidenceandevidencefromCoptic.[l]isclearly
presentinlaterstagesofthelanguage,butithasbeenalongstandingpuzzlewhat,ifany,status
ithadinMiddleEgyptian.

H Theglyphattheleftrepresentsthesound[],avoicelesspharyngealfricative.This
isthesamekindofsoundthata represents,butitisvoicelessinsteadofvoiced.Itissimilarlynot
present in IndoEuropean languages but occurs as a phoneme in Standard Arabic and some
dialects of Hebrew. To get a sense of the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds in
general,putyourhandontheupperpartofyourthroatandsaytheconsonants[t]and[d]asthey
wouldsoundatthebeginningofaword(dontsayteeanddee!).Youshouldfeelyourthroat
vibratingwhenyousay[d],butnot[t],andthisvibrationofthevocalfoldsiswhatrendersa
soundvoicedinlinguisticterminology.Itisdifficulttoreproducevoicing(orlackthereof)in
unfamiliarsounds,butthisshouldgiveatechnicalsenseofthedifferencebetweenthesounds
representedbya andH.

x The glyph at the left is almost universally thought to represent the sound [x], a
voicelessvelarfricative,asinGermanachorYiddishchutzpah.ItfrequentlysubstitutesforSemitic
[x]intranscriptionsofSemiticwords.

X Theglyphattheleftismostlyconsideredtorepresentthesound[],avoiceless
palatalfricative,asinGermanich.TheprimaryevidenceforthisisthatX andS (analveopalatal
fricative)areofteninterchangeableinwriting,leadingscholarstopositthatXisphonologically
similartoS(intermsofplaceofarticulation).Itisworthnoting,though,thatPeust(11517)has
developed an alternative theory for the relation between X and S, but he does not ultimately
committoaspecificphoneticvalueforXbeyondthefactthatitisabackfricative.

o,
k,and
g Theseglyphsaresomeofthemostdifficultsignstoassign
phoneticvalues.Peust(10715)hasathoroughdiscussionofthemanypossibilities,althoughit
iscleartheywereallstopsandallwerevelar(orfurtherbackinthemouth).Forpresentpurposes,
itsufficestonotethefollowing:o representedeitherauvularstop[q](astopmadevery,veryfar
backinthemouth)oranemphatic[k]thatis,[k](akindofsoundfoundinArabic,wherethe
consonant sounds stronger than normal; technically, it is a secondary articulation of
pharyngealization).Mostlikely,gwasavoicedvelarstop[g],likegabinEnglish.

t and
d Itisbesttotreattheremainingfoursignsintwogroups,startingwith
t andd.Itisfairlyclearthatthesoundsrepresentedbythesesignswerebothstopsandhadthe
sameplaceofarticulation(dental/alveolar),butwhatthedifferencewasbetweenthemisunclear.

18

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

InTableI1avoicingdistinctionissuggested:t is[t]anddis[d].However,itcouldalsobethatt
isnonemphaticandd isemphatic(andvoiceless),orthatt isaspiratedandd isnot.

T and
D The same holds for T and D, which are both palatal stops (slightly
further back in the mouth), but the distinction between them could be voicing, emphasis, or
aspiration.SeePeust,7984,forrelevantdiscussion.

N.1.Whateverthedistinctionbetweenthetwodentalstops(

)andtwopalatal

stops(
/ )was,itwascommonacrossbothpairsforexample,ifitwasvoicing,d
representedavoiceddentalstopandDrepresentedavoicedpalatalstop.Therefore,dand
D(andt andd)weresimilarsoundsinatleastoneway(voicing,emphasis,oraspiration).
InearlierMiddleEgyptiantextsitisclearthatdandDaredistinctsounds,butinlatertexts
thesimilaritybetweenthepairsseemstogrowbecausethedistinctionbetweenthemoften
collapses.

N.2.InsomeMiddleEgyptiantexts Disused
inplaceoforiginal
d,and
Tinplaceof

original t.Othertimes,thereverseisencoun
Later periods developed variants for
tered(forexample,fordoriginalD).
someand eventually allof the

Asregardsthetransliterationof
and ,twodiffer
entsystemsarecurrentlyincommonuse.Anglophone
Egyptologists,suchasSirAlanGardner,distinguished
betweenthemas i andyrespectively,andmanypubli
cationsstillmakethisdistinction.Forexample:

ki tocryaloud

uniconsonantal signs. Three are found


withsomefrequencyinMiddleEgyptian:
m

[tallToriginallythe
biconsonantaltj]

ky another

GermanEgyptologists,however,tendtotransliteratebothassimplyj,becauseinGermanthe
letterjisregularlypronouncedasEnglishyforexample,thewordja(yes),orJahr(year).
Accordingly, both of the words above would be transliterated kj. The German system has the
virtueofsimplifyingthetransliteration,anditisquicklybecomingtheinternationalnorm.Hence
inthisbookthereedleafandthedoublereedleaf(aswellastheobliquestrokes)willbetranslatedasj.This
shouldneverbepronounced,however,astheEnglishj(jailbait)butalwayseitherasaysoundor
asalongeeasintopee.

J.Allen.TheAncientEgyptianLanguage:AnHistoricalStudy.Cambridge,2013:3756.
.MiddleEgyptian.3rded.Cambridge,2014.
J.Hoch.SemiticWordsinEgyptianTextsoftheNewKingdomandThirdIntermediatePeriod.Princeton,1994.

19

INTRODUCTION

InternationalPhoneticAssociation.HandbookoftheInternationalPhoneticAssociation:AGuidetotheUseofthe
InternationalPhoneticAlphabet.Cambridge,1999.
F.Kammerzell.TheSoundsofaDeadLanguage:ReconstructingEgyptianPhonology.GttingerBeitrge
zurSprachwissenschaft1(1998):2141.
C.Peust.EgyptianPhonology:AnIntroductiontothePhonologyofaDeadLanguage.Gttingen:1999.
G.Takcs.EtymologicalDictionaryofEgyptian:APhonologicalIntroduction.Leiden,1999.
. Recent Problems of Egyptian Historical Phonology at the Present Stage of ComparativeHistorical
Afroasiatic Linguistics. In J. Lecarme, ed. Research in Afroasiatic Grammar 1. Amsterdam, 2000:
34578.

I7.MulticonsonantalSignsandPhoneticComplements

Inadditiontotheuniconsonantals,Egyptianscribesdevelopedphonogramsthatalsorepresented
groupsoftwoorthreeconsonantsinasequence.Thesebiconsonantalandtriconsonantalsignsnot
only formed an integral part of the hieroglyphic system: they were as indispensable to that
systemasweretheuniconsonantalsarpartoftheorthographyofmostwords.Herearefour
examples:

kmbiconsonantal[k + m]

nm biconsonantal[n + m]

nfrtriconsonantal[n + f + r]

nTr triconsonantal[n + T + r]

Althoughthesemulticonsonantalsignscouldbebrokenupintotheiruniconsonantalequivalents,
andsometimeswere,theircontinueduseovernearlyfourmillenniaprecludedhieroglyphsfrom
becomingeitherasyllabary(Cherokee)oranalphabeticsystem(Swedish),bothofwhichtypes
ofwritingEgyptianhieroglyphseventuallyspawned.3OrlyGoldwasserhassuggested:

Inallprobability,amixtureofculturalandsemioticconsiderationsdiscouragedsuchal
phabetizing development. Two main cultural reasons suggest themselves: conserva
tism;andaconsciousdesiretomaintainthecomplexityofthescripttoensurethatitre
mained the exclusive preserve of ancient Egypts elite, those who held power and the
scribes who wrote [in] their service. In the semiotic realm, the closed system of hiero
glyphsmaywellhavefurtheredideologicalindoctrination;moreover,forthosesensitive
toitsintricacies,itisaverybeguilingsystemthatisrichincognitiverewards.4
See E. Melzer, Remarks on Ancient Egyptian Writing with Emphasis on its Mnemonic Aspects, in
ProcessingofVisibleLanguage,vol.2,ed.P.Kolers,etal.(NewYork,1980),4356.

O.Goldwasser,Hieroglyphs,TheOxfordEncyclopediaofAncientEgypt,3vols.(Oxford,2001),2:199.

20

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Thereareseveralproblemswiththisargument,whichimplicitlyprivilegesalphabetizingdevel
opment over the more apparently cumbersome hieroglyphic system. First, Egyptian scribes
wereonthewholeagooddeallessconservativethanitmightfirstappear.Althoughmany
signsremainedconstantfromtheOldKingdomthroughtheByzantineperiod,newsignswere
regularlyadded(orsubtracted)fromthoseincommonuse.Thus,whileclassicMiddleEgyptian
makesdowithroughly600signs,bytheLatePeriodandintothePtolemaicandRomaneras,the
numberofsignsregularlyinuseexpandedtowellover5000.Nordoesitappeartobethecase
that alphabetic writing is either easier to learn or more democratizable than the Egyptian
hieroglyphic script. In the ancient Hellenic city states, for example, after the invention of the
alphabet,onlysomewherearound5%ofthepopulationmasteredliteracyinbothGreeceand
atRome,writingwasasmuchthepreserveoftheeliteasitwasinEgypt.5Moreover,itissalutary
to remember that the literacy rate in China is currently 95%, where roughly 7000 signs are in
regular use. Finally, all writing systemsincluding the Greek alphabet and its derivatives
entailagooddealofculturalindoctrination,ofonesortoranother,6whosecomplexityisdirectly
proportionaltothatsystemspotentialforcognitiverewards.Withoutdenyingthatallofthe
factorsthatGoldwassersitescamesomewhereintoplay,itbearsstressingthatEgyptianhiero
glyphssimultaneouslyiconicandphoneticconstituteoneoftherichestofalllanguagebased
technologiesthathumanshaveinvented,allowingforvirtuallyunparalleledflexibilityandthe
possibilityofencodingmultiplelayersofbothsemiologicalandrhetoricalcomplexities.Perhaps
itwasoutofadesiretopreservethisrichnessthatEgyptianscribespreservedthearchaicsystem
ofhieroglyphicwritingandresistedsimplifyingit.

Themulticonsonantalsignsneededtoacquirethevocabularyintroducedinthisgrammar
and,inparticular,necessarytoreadShipwreckedSailorareintroducedoverthenextfewles
sons.TherearealsocompletetablesofthebiconsonantalandtriconsonantalsignsinPartThree
ofthebook(seeTablesR2andR3).EventhesimplestMiddleEgyptiantextsrequirefamiliarity
with thesesigns and the peculiarities of their use. For example, the consonantalsequence km
could easily be written . However, when this particular sound cluster occurred within the
boundariesofsingleword,itwasnotcommonpracticetodoso.Insteadscribesusedthegroup
ing:

km= km[biconsonantal],reinforcedbytheuniconsonantal
m.

Theaddedmhereiscalledaphoneticcomplementthatis,phoneticallyitisredundantsincethe
glyph
already reads km. The placed immediately after itserves as akind of phonetic
reinforcementorareminderthatthegroupincludesthem.Phoneticcomplementsarenot,for
themostpart,includedatthediscretionofthescribe,butfixedbyconvention.Herearefour
examplesbasedontwodifferentroots,plusafifththatseemstodrawonbothnoticetheattempt

W.Harris,AncientLiteracy(Cambridge,MA,1989);M.Bloomer,LatinityandLiterarySocietyatRome(Phil
adelphia,1997).
5

Cf.E.Havelock,TheLiteratureRevolutioninGreeceanditsCulturalConsequences(Princeton,1982).

21

INTRODUCTION

towriteinrectangulargroupings.Forthevariousdeterminativesthatfollowthe
ingshere,seeI8below.

group

km black(adj.)

Km.t theBlackLand(i.e.,Egypt)

km tototalupto,complete(v.)

km.t completion(n.)

kmj(.t)herd[ofblackcattle](n.)

Therearealsootherwordsthatusethebiconsonantal ,butwithoutthephoneticcomplement.
Again,theseparticularspellingsareconventional,andthechoicetoleaveoutthecomplementary
lookstobeaesthetic:

Km.t Egyptians(coll.peopleoftheBlackLand)

km.t jug,vase(n.)

In all of the preceding examples, the consonantal combination km has been sentence initial.
alsooccursin
However,thesamecombinationofbiconsonantal +monoconsonantal or
medialpositionswithinthewordaswell.Forexample:
jkm shield

skmkm

destroy

Whilescribesregularlyusedbiortriconsonantalformwithinwords,theyavoidedusingthem
across word breaks. For example, the phrase bAk m pr is made up of three words. The last
consonant of bAk (servant) abuts up against the preposition m (in), thereby creating the
consonantal sequence km. Since the consonants belong to two separate words, however, the
combinationwouldnotbewritten :

bAk | m pr theservantinthehouse

isvirtuallyillegible.Studentsshouldnottrytousebiortriconsonantal
Thesequence**
signsexceptwheretheyappearintheexamplesandthevocabulary.

22

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

One of the more difficult challenges facing beginning students, moreover, lies in deci
phering words that employ phonetic complements. Here, only recognition of the word in its
entiretydistinguishesbetweenaphoneticcomplementandwhereanewwordgroupingbegins.
For example, the sign anx could be written as either a triconsonantal phonogram or as a tri
consonantalwithtwophoneticcomplements.Asthethirdexampleshows,however,thestacked
uniconsontals
and couldbethestartofanewword:

anxtolive[phonogram]

anx tolive[phonogram+2phoneticcomplements]

anx nxb Maythelotusflowerlive


Inthethirdexampleabove,isthetriconsonantal anx, followedby
nxb,whichmeans
lotusflower.Inawaythe
doesdoubleduty,butsinceanx frequentlyoccurswithoutpho
neticcomplementstheyarenotrequiredhere.Whatyouhaveinsteadisatypeofparonomasia
orinternalrhyming.

When scribes wrote a word with phonetic complements, contemporary Egyptologists


onlytransliteratethesoundsequenceonce.Thisappliesincaseswhereawordiswrittenboth
iconicallyandphoneticallyforexample:

anx not** anx-nx

nmnm not**n-nm-m-n-nm-n toquake

Inthesecondexample, isthebiliteralnm,surroundedrespectivelyby
ononesideand
ontheother.Thewriting isnotattested, makingthisacasewhereorthographydictatesthat
thephoneticcomplementsarenotdispensable.

I8.ModernClassroomPronunciation

BecausethevowelsarealmostneverrepresentedinMiddleEgyptianhieroglyphs,modernEgyp
tologists havepurely for the sake of convenienceadopted certain conventions for reading
ClassicalEgyptianaloud,whatCarstenPeustcallsEgyptologese:7

Both A and a are pronounced as the short vowel a. So, Am (to burn up) is pro
nouncedAM(withalikeinfather);however,am (toswallow)isalsovocalizedasAM.
TheverbaAg (tobeat)isgenerallypronouncedwithaglottalstop:AAG.

C.Peust,Egyptologese:ALinguisticIntroduction,FBI,13148.

23

INTRODUCTION

jispronouncedasY,asthevowelI,orasaglottalstopplusI(thatis,asI).Initialjis
usuallyvocalizedY;medialorfinaljasIorI.ThustheverbjAS (tocall)isusually
pronouncedYASH;bjk (falcon)asBIK;whilehAj (todescend)isvocalizedasHAI.
The verb jj (come) is generally rendered II, while the verb jrj (to do) is pro
nouncedYIRI.

wissometimespronouncedasawandsometimesasthevowelu.ThuswAs (domin
ion)readsasWA,whiletwt (image)ispronouncedTUT[=Englishtoot].Initial
w followed by anotherconsonant is usually vocalicso, for example, wsr reads as
USR.

Otherwise,scholarsfreelyinsertashorteoribetweentheletters,torenderthe
consonantaltextintosyllables.Sonk(tocopulate)isgenerallypronouncedNEKor
NIKthewordisstillusedinEgyptianColloquialArabic,whichmakestheEnglish
nameNickhighlyamusing,muchlessthethoughtofSaintNick!Togiveamore
extendedphrase,mostEgyptologistswouldpronounce

jw Dd=f n sS ntj m pr=j (Hespeakstothescribewhoisinmyhouse),as:


YEWDJEDEFENSESHNETIEMPERI.

HoweverfarremovedfromwhatEgyptianmusthaveactuallysoundedlike,themethodallows
modernscholarsaprovisionalwaytocommunicatewhattheyseewrittenonthepage.Students
oughtnottoworrytoomuchaboutthesearbitraryrules;rather,theyshouldmakeastabat
pronouncingthewordsasbesttheycan,rememberingalways,however,thathieroglyphsarea
consonantalscript,withoutvowels.Atalaterstage,somemaywanttotrytheirhandatoneof
theseveralattemptstoreconstructthepronunciation.Modernworkswhichhaveemployedre
constructedEgyptianphonologyincludethelibrettotoPhilipGlasssoperaAkhenaten(1982)and
StephenSommersfilmTheMummy(1999).

I9.Determinatives

In addition to logograms and phonograms (uniconsonantal as well as multiconsonantal), the


thirdmaingroupofhieroglyphicsignsconsistsofdeterminatives.Theseareasetoflargely
iconic graphemes, placed at the terminal boundary of the word, that serve to classify it as
belongingtooneofthephenomenalornoumenalcategoriesthatEgyptianculturerecognized.
For example, the determinative indicates that the word in question has to do with trees.
Likewise,thedeterminative indicatesthatthewordastodowiththegebel,thedesert,orwith
foreigncountriesandpeoples.SuchdeterminativeswhicharepartoftheorthographyofmostMiddle
Egyptian wordsare voiceless graphemes, written but not pronouncedand never represented in
transliteration.
ManywordsinMiddleEgyptianarewrittenwithexactlythesamesequenceofconso
nantsregardlessofhowtheymayhavedifferedinpronunciation.Forexample,herearetwo
differentverbsthathavetheidenticalconsonantalspellings:

24

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

nmj toerr,wander

nmj tocryout

Unmarked,thetwowordspotentiallycouldcauseconfusion.Context,ofcourse,mighthelpthe
readertodecidewhichverbwasmeantinthepassageinquestion.However,itwouldnotbe
difficulttoconstructsentencesorparagraphswhereonecouldnotdecidewhichnmj wasinten
ded.Sometimessuchambiguitiesareintentionalorpartoftheliterarygenreitself.Ingeneral,
however, when scribes wanted the matter to be clear, they appended one or more semantic
determinativestotheendoftheword.Inthiscase,toerriswrittenwithapairofwalkinglegs
whichsignifythatthewordbelongstothesetoftermsthathavetodowithmotion.Bycontrast
whennmj meanstocryoutitterminatesinwhatEgyptologistsusuallycallthehandtomouth
determinative,indicatingthatthewordsemanticallyhassomethingtodowithspeech:

nmj toerr,wander

nmj tocryout

Becausedeterminativesstandattheendoftheconsonantalsequence,theyhelptobreaklinesor
columnsofhieroglyphsthatareotherwisecontinuousupintodiscretewords.Likecuneiform,
Latin,andSanskrit,scribesdidnotspacebetweenwordsorusewordseparators.Inaddition,
then,toclassifyingtheword,thedeterminativeshelpedreaderstorecognizeworddivisionsin
theabsenceofspacingorothersuchpunctuation.
An example of a very full writing, using the biconsonantal nm, two phonetic com
plements,andmultipledeterminativeswouldbe:

snm tofeed

Notethatthebiconsonantal nmtakesaphoneticcomplementbothbefore(n)andafter(m),and
thattheentirewordculminatesinthreeseparatedeterminatives:twobirdsignsandabookroll.
Thefirstbirdisaduckalighting,whilethesecondrepresentsagooseeating.Thefinaldeter
minative,apapyrusscroll,indicatesthatthewordisconnectedwithabstractmattersofaccount
ing.Thus,outofsevensigns,asequenceofthreeconsonantsemerges:snm.Thiscouldhave
beenreducedtosimply
, butthiswouldentailalossofinformation.

IfEnglishusedasimilargraphicsysteminwhichonlytheconsonantswererecordedin
logographic fashion and new terms written on the rebus principle, the words star, stare,
steer,store,andstraymightallbedepictedwiththelogogram:

25

INTRODUCTION

The icon stands clearly enough for a starit might also be the sign for heavens, night,
brilliance,oranynumberofotherthingsaswell.Ontheprincipleoftheconsonantalrebus,
however,itcouldalsobeusedtorepresentthetriconsonantalsoundsequencestr.Asnoted,to
distinguishwordsthathadthesameseriesofrootconsonantsbutmeantdifferentthings,Egyp
tianscribesemployeddeterminativestoconveythesemanticcategorytowhichtheentityorcon
ceptbelonged.WereEnglishtousesuchasystem,onemightimaginethefollowinggraphiccom
binationstodistinguishtheAnglophoneseriesofwordrootsinstr:

strstar

strtostare

strtosteer

strastore

strtostray

strsatyr

strasteer

strsuture

Determinativespairedwithotherlogogramswoulddesignatedifferentwordsthatbelongtothe
same conceptual category. For example, the concept of a musical note, which requires the
consonantalsequencent,mightwellbewrittenwithabiconsonantalsignntandadetermin
ative that indicated that music was at issue. At the same time, however, a logogram for cell
phone,pairedwiththesamemusicaldeterminativemightreadringtone.

musicalnote

ringtone

Thenotedeterminativethatthetwoshareincommonindicatesthatbothentitiesbelonggrosso
modotothesamegeneralclassofideasrelatingtosoundormusic.
Throughtherebusprinciple,onemovesgraduallyfartherandfartherawayfromsimple
iconicdepiction,anditquicklybecomesapparentthatagooddealofarbitrarinesscharacterizes
thewiderhieroglyphicsystemasawhole.Take,forexample,theconsonantalsequencep-r-t:even
theabridgeddictionariesofMiddleEgyptianlistmorethanhalfadozendifferentwords,each
spelledwiththelogogramforhouseprregularlyusedforthebiconsonantalsequencepr
combinedtogetherwithtwouniconsonantalsigns,onerepeatingtherasaphoneticcomplement,
theotheraddingthefeminineendingt.Eachofthesewords,however,endsindifferentsemantic
determinativessoastoindicateavarietyofdifferentthings.Onlythelastofthesixexamples
clearlyretainsitsconnectiontotheconceptualfieldofhouse,fromwhichtherebusstartedout:

26

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

pr.tprocession

pr.tprogeny

pr.trising[ofastar]

pr.tfruit

pr.twinter

pr.thousemaid

Manysimilarexamplescouldalsobeadduced.Infact,theonlytermsthatregularlydispense
with determinatives altogether are words that are very common, or parts of speech such as
demonstrativesorprepositions.Forexample:

nfr beautiful,excellent

Xr under

pn this

ntj who,which

Thewritingstypicallygiveenoughcluestoallowforaclearcutreading.However,thevarious
signvalues(andspecificationoftheirtypes)arebestconsultedintheMiddleEgyptiansignlist
at the end of Alan Gardiners Egyptian Grammar, available independently of this grammar.
AbbreviatedsignlistsareincludedinPartThreeofthisbook(seeR6.SignLists).

A.Gardiner.EgyptianGrammar.Thirdedition.Oxford,1957.
W.Kosack,gyptischeZeichenliste.2vols.Berlin,2013.
B.Petty.EgyptianGlyphary.Littleton,2012.

I10.CommonGenericDeterminatives

man,person;alsousedafteramanspersonalname;called:seatedman

woman;alsousedafterawomanspersonalname:called:seatedwoman

people[thethreestrokesindicateplurality]

child,young

oldman,age,dignity

official

reveredperson,especiallythedeceased(placedafterdeceasedsname)

27

INTRODUCTION

god,king

god,king

goddess,queen

high,rejoice,support

praise,homage,supplication

effort,force,activity

walking,running;called:walkinglegs

eating,drinking,speaking,thinking,feeling;calledhandtomouth

tired,weak,sitting

enemy,foreigner,captive

enemy,death,evil

lyingdown,death,burial

mutilate,slaughter,damage

turmoil

skin

limb,flesh

vine,gardener,fruit

time,season

district,nome,garden

28

darkness,dusk,night

fire,hot,cooked,torch

air,wind,breath;sail

stone(thesignisnarrowerthanthealphabeticsign

S)

copper,bronze,metal

sand,minerals,pellets,particles,spices,metals,andsoon

bodiesofwater

water,liquid,actionsconnectedwithwater

irrigatedland(=irrigationchannelsseenfromabove)

road,travel,position

desert,hillyterrain,foreigncountry

foreign(countryorperson):throwstick

town,village,inhabitedmound,Egypt

house,building,thingswithinteriors

door,toopen

box,chest;coffin

mat,fiber,basketry

mooringpost

cloth,clothing,linen(=fringedclothwithfoldedcloth)
binding,threaddocument(=stringbindingasealedpapyrus)

rope,actionsinvolvingropesandcords
29

INTRODUCTION

knife,cutting

hoe,cultivation,hackingup

breaking,dividing,crossing,calculating

vessel,anoint,beverages

bread(=breakinapanorbreadmold)

loaf,bread,offerings

festival

book,writing,abstractnouns;called:bookroll

crocodile,greedy,aggression
young,vigorous

boat,sail,travelbywater

rain,dew

penis,urinate,beget

embrace,enfold

I11.TheDirectionofHieroglyphicScript

Hieroglyphicinscriptionsandpapyriwerewrittentobereadinoneoffourdirections:(1)
horizontallyfromrighttoleft,likeHebreworArabictoday;(2)horizontally,fromrighttoleft,
likeLatinorEnglish;(3)incolumnsreadingtoptobottom,righttoleft;or(4)incolumnsreading
toptobottom,butlefttoright.Theonlyarrangementthatwasavoidedwasbottomtotop.For
hieroglyphsthemostcommondirectionforwritingwasrighttoleft,whetherhorizontallyorin
columns.Todeterminethedirectionofanyparticularpassage,onereadsinto(toward)thefacesofthe
birds,animals,andpeople,ascanbeseenintheexamplesbelow.Modernpublicationsofhieroglyphic
textsfollowoneoftwoconventions.Someprintedtextssettheglyphsuniformlyfromleftto
right, a direction more congenial to beginning American and European students insofar as it
replicatesthedirectionoftheLatinalphabet.Otherpublications,however,attempttoreproduce

30

thedirectionoftheoriginal.Generally,thereisanarrowpointingtothedirectioninwhichone
oughttoread.
ConsiderthefollowinglinefromthetaleoftheShipwreckedSailor,writteninthefour
differentdirections,notingineachcasetheorderinwhicheachsignistoberead.Afterthat,
analyzethethreecolumnsofhieroglyphicwritingontheright:inwhichorderarethecolumns
toberead?withineachcolumn,inwhichorderarethedifferentsignstobeconsidered?

Whicheverwaythescribe
mayhavechosentowritethissentence,itcontainsthreewords,thesecondofwhichhasasuffix
pronoun (=k).Notealsotheuseofthelinearstroke(seebelowI14]andthedeterminatives
and attheterminalwordboundary:

31

INTRODUCTION

wDA Bepositive

jb=k yourheart

HA.tj-a prince!

Witheachwordhoweitherthedeterminativeattheend,ortheencliticpronoun-k(
),serves
tomarkthebreaksbetweenthewords.ReadingwhichwithEgyptianhieroglyphsconstitutes
apossibilitythatshouldneverbetakenforgrantedisaskillthatoneacquireswithpractice,
patience,andoverconsiderabletime.

Lefttoright

Toptobottom

In this grammar the standard directional


orientationofthesignswillbefromleftto
right.Thismeansthattheorderinwhich
signs are to be read is as follows: (1) left
before right, and (2) top before bottom.
Theexceptionstothisorderinvolvetrans
positions that are made either for aesthetic or for honorific
reasons; these will be introduced in this book in due course.
Occasionally one encounters retrograde signs (that is, a sign
writtenwiththewrongdirection).Thisisparticularlythecase
in lefttoright inscriptions, since the normal order was right to
leftandsomescribesoftenwrotebackwards.Forexample:

retrograde:

retrograde:

Often hieroglyphic inscriptions need to be read from the center


outwardinbothdirections,asinthecarvingstotheright.

JustasEgyptianscribesdidnotseparatewordsbyspaces,sothereisnopunctuationto
articulatethecourseofthelineorcolumn.Herereadersmustrelyupongrammaticalcriteriaor
contexttodistinguishindividualwords,clauses,sentences,evenwhatwethinkofasparagraphs,
thusleavingthereaderthefreedomtoconstruetheEgyptianinvariouspossiblewaysdepending
onthepassage.Onpapyri,chapterbreakswereoftenindicatedbywritingthefirstfewwordsof
thenewsectioninredink(rubrication).
32

I12.ArrangementofSigns

Thesignsthatmakeupthehieroglyphicline,nomatterwhatdirectionwearetoreadthem,are
alwaysarrangedingroupsratherthansimplyplacedoneafteranotherinaseriesliketheletters
ofanEnglishword.Thus,forthesentenceillustratedinsectionI8,itisnotproperscribalprotocol
toplacethesignsinastring:

**

Rather,theprincipleofgroupingisfundamentaltothegroupsdependsontheshapeoftheindi
vidualsign.Ingeneral,everyhieroglyphhasoneofthreebasicshapes:

Tall,narrowsigns:forexample

and

Low,broadsigns:forexample,

and

Low,narrowsigns:forexample:

and

Tallsignstendtostandbythemselves,buttheothersignsareusuallyarrangedintosquareor
rectangular groups, characterized by symmetry where possible. Note the stacking for the
followingwords,withparticularattentiontothesymmetryinthesecondcase:

aH palace

jar.t uraeus

jrj-x.t administrator

To achieve a square or rectangular grouping,


tallsignstendtostandalone,whilelowsigns
be they broad or narroware generally
stackedoneatopanother.Thefirsttwoexam
plesshowbasicblockgrouping,whilethesec
ond can be broken down roughly into two
squaregroupssetsidebyside.Sometimesvery
small signs are tucked between two larger
signsorplacedinthecrookofabirdsneck:

ao.w food

Studythewaythatthehieroglyphsaboveareset
withinboxes

mw.t mother
33

INTRODUCTION

Unusually,inthiscase,everyindividualwordreceivesasquareorrectangleofitsownandcon
sequentlyintroducesspacesbetweenthewords,whichishighlyunusualfornormalhieroglyphic
script.

I13.OrthographicVariation

InhieroglyphicEgyptian,therearealmostalwaysseveralwaystowritethesameword.
Wehaveseenthatthisisthecaseforbiandtriconsonantallogogramswhichmayormaynot
includephoneticcomplements.Beyondthis,however,manywordsarefoundinmultiplespel
lings.Forexample,thenounnjAw ibexcouldbewritteninanyofthefollowingways:

njAw

n(j)Aw

Theicon
isabiconsonantal
thatrepresentsthesoundsAw

n(j)Aw

njAw

All of these are spellings of the same word. In addition, Middle Egyptian scribes sometimes
resortedtowhatmodernscholarscallsportivewritings.Thesearegenerallyanextensionof
therebusprincipleinwhichanunexpectedcombinationofglyphsstandinforamorecommon
spelling.Forexample,theworddwarfcanbewrittenstraightforwardlyaswellsportively:

nmw dwarf

nmw dwarf

Here
is a biconsonantal icon (water) that has the phonetic value mw. Similarly, the non
encliticparticle jw is sometimes written by repeating the first of the consonants (i.e., the reed
leaf) three times: . This sportive writing is based on two principles: (1) the standard plural
endingformostnounswasw,and(2)onewaytowritethepluralwastorepeattheiconthree
times;werethisatrueplural,itwouldbetransliteratedj.w.Whatdistinguishessportivewritings
fromcryptogramsisthatthereisnothingcryptographicperseaboutthephoneticrerendering
ofnmw orthetriplingofthereedleaftoindicateafalseplural.MiddleEgyptianorthography
was flexible. However, students should not feel free to invent spellings ad libitem, but rather
restrictthemselvestothosespellingsthatareactuallyattested.

I14.Transliteration:FurtherConventions

Therearetwomainsystemsoftransliterationcurrentlyinusetoday,theGermanandtheAnglo
American(seeN.2.inI6.UniconsonantalSigns);theformerisquicklycomingtoreplacethe
34

latterastheinternationalstandardandisfollowedinthisbook.Inadditiontothepreferenceof
thetranscriptionjoveri ory,theGermansystemfollowsanumberofrulesforindicatingthe
relationshipbeenarootnounorverbandthevarioustypesoflinguisticaffixes,suffixpronouns,
andthelike.

Thefeminineendingtisseparatedfromtherootwordbyadot,asarethestative
endingskw, tj, w,andsoon:

sjman

sj.twoman[feminineending]

jj come

jj.kwIhavearrived[stative]

Suffixpronounsareaffixedtotheirhostsbyanequalsign[=]:

prhouse

pr=jNoun+firstpersonpossessivepronoun
myhouse

sDmhear

sDm=jVerb+firstpersonsingularsuffix
Ihear

Compoundwordsareconnectedbyahyphen:

jmj-r overseer

Hw.t-nTrtemple

m-ainthehandof,inchargeof

Lettersnotnormallywritteninthehieroglyphsbutpresumedtobepresentare
placedinparentheses:

H(n)o.tbeer

m(w)t.tdeadwoman

r(m)T people

n(j) atypeofrelativeadjective

35

INTRODUCTION

Bycommoneditorialconvention,extraneouslettersareplacedincurlybraces{},
and reconstructed portions of a word or text are placed in square brackets [ ].
Letterserroneouslyomittedareplacedinangularbrackets<>.

Reconstructedformsnotactuallyattestedareindicatedbyasingleasterisk(sn.t
sister> *san.at[vocalized]);formsthatarelinguisticallyimpossibleorunlikely
areindicatedbyadoubleasterisk(sn.tsister>**snot).

Theselasttwopointsdetailconventionsformosteditorialworkacrossallfields.Theyarenot
idiosyncratictoEgyptologicalpractice.

I15.TheUseoftheLinearStroke

When scribes wanted a logogram to read as the object it depicts, they generally followed the
hieroglyphwithalinearstroke,placedeitherbeneathorbesidethesign.Thestrokeeffectively
meansreadaswhatitlookslike.Forexample:

rw lion

msDr ear

D.t cobra

prhouse

jb heart
A Egyptianvulture

Note,however,thatthisisnotalwaysthecase.Scribesalsousedthestrokeinsomeverycommon
wordsinwhichitdoesnotindicatethatthereaderistounderstandtheglyphastheobjectthatit
depicts.Itispossiblethatthesearesimplyspacefillerssincetheydonotgenerallyoccurwith
largersignssuchas srx palacefacade:

sA son(notgoose)

nb lord(notbasket)

a district[canalsomeanarm]

wn hare

36

Most of these are obvious and will be learned as separate vocabulary items throughout the
ensuinglessons.Studentsshouldnotethatexacthieroglyphictranscriptionsfromhieraticoften
containnumerousextraneousstrokesandlines(forexample,
).Theretooareasfillersthat
conveynophoneticorsemanticinformation.Graphicallytheysimplyfillanemptyspacewithin
theline,sincetoEgyptiansanemptyspaceimpliedannihilation.

I16.TheHieroglyphicWord

A word is the smallest verbal unit that can constitute an utterance on its own. In con
temporary English, for example, political and apolitical are both words. The prefix a,
however, as in apolitical, is not strictly a word since normally the privative communicates
nothingonitsown.InclassicalEgyptian,allwordsarebasedonalexicalroot,whichisanab
stractformcomprisingasequenceofonetofiveconsonants,thoughthevastmajorityofEgyptian
rootshaveonlytwoorthree(Hr, Xrd). Onthisskeletalform,variousdifferentvowelingswere
imposed to produce the diverse words actually utilized in speech. What hieroglyphic script
represents,then,arethelexicalrootswithoutthevowelsthatinspeechdistinguishedoneword
fromanother.Forexample,thetriconsonantalroots-D-mformsthebasisofallwordsthathave
to do with hearing. In writing, which employs the triconsonantal sDm together with the
phonetic complement m, the infinitive, the participle, and the prospective form all look
identical(sDm),eventhoughphoneticallytheyhavebeenreconstructeddifferentiallyasfollows:

ROOT:
s-D-m
INFINITIVE:
PARTICIPLE:
PROSPECTIVE:

sDm /s:Dam / tohear


sDm /sDim/hewhohears
sDm/sDma/mayhehear

Thisbegsthequestionastowhatextentthebareform
sDmconstitutesawordatall.It
would perhaps be best to think of sDm as a mnemonic device that, depending on the context,
triggersthereadingorthepronunciationofthespecificwordneededinthatcontext,beits:Dam,
sDim,sDmaoranyofthenumerousothervocalizationtowhichtherootsDm givesrise.8The
samewouldbetrueofanyrootrepresentedinthehieroglyphicscript,beitanoun,anadjective,
averb,ademonstrative,orwhatever.

J.Baines.VisualandWrittenCultureinAncientEgypt.Oxford,2007:3201.
M.Betr.Hieroglyphics:TheWritingsofAncientEgypt.NewYork.1996.
W.Davies.EgyptianHieroglyphs:ReadingthePast.London.1987.
P. J. Frandsen. On Categorisation and Metaphorical Structuring: Some Remarks on Egyptian Art and
Language.CambridgeArchaeologicalJournal7(1997):71104.

E.Melzer,RemarksonAncientEgyptianWritingwithEmphasisonitsMnemonicAspectsinProcessing
VisibleLanguage2.NewYork,1980:4356.
37

INTRODUCTION

O.Goldwasser.TheDeterminativeSystemasaMirrorofWorldOrganization.GM170(1999):7393.
.FromIcontoMetaphor:StudiesintheSemioticsoftheHieroglyphs.Fribourg.1995.
.Prophets,Lovers,andGiraffes:Wor(l)dClassificationinAncientEgypt.Wiesbaden.2002.
O.GoldwasserandC.Grinevald,WhatareDeterminativesGoodfor?inLexicalSemanticsinAncient
Egyptian,ed.E.Grossman,etal.Hamburg,2012:1753.
T.Hare.ReMemberingOsiris:GenderoftheWorkinAncientEgyptianRepresentationalSystems.Stanford,Calif.
1999.
E.Hornung.IdeaintoImage:EssaysonEgyptianThought.TranslatedbyE.Bredeck.Princeton,N.J.1992.
B.Kemp.ThinkLikeanEgyptian:100Hieroglyphs.NewYork.2005.
D.Sandison.TheArtofEgyptianHieroglyphs.London.1997.
W.Schenkel.TheStructureoftheHieroglyphicScript.RoyalAnthropologicalInstituteNews15(1976):47.
R.ShalomiHen.ClassifyingtheDivine:DeterminativesandCategorisationinCT335andBD17.Fribourg.2000.
W. Smoczyski. Seeking Structure in the Lexicon: On Some CognitiveFunctional Aspects of Determi
nativeAssignment.LingAeg6(1999):15362.
H.teVelde.EgyptianHieroglyphsasSigns,Symbols,andGods.VisibleReligion45(1986):6372.
K.Weeks.Art,Word,andtheEgyptianWorldView.InEgyptologyandtheSocialSciences.EditedbyK.
Weeks.Cairo.1976.Pp.5981.
R.Wilkinson.ReadingEgyptianArt:AHieroglyphicGuidetoAncientEgyptianPaintingandSculpture.London.
1992.
P.Wilson.Hieroglyphs:AVeryShortIntroduction.NewYork.2005.
W.WormanandS.Quirke.HieroglyphsandtheAfterlifeinAncientEgypt.Norman.1996.

I17.Lexicography

Asagrammarandareader,HieroglyphicEgyptianisselfcontained.AllEgyptianwordsemployed
inthecourseofstudyarelistedintheEgyptianEnglishvocabularyinPartThreeofthebook,
whichisorganizedaccordingtotheconventionalarrangementoftheuniconsonantalsigns.For
purposesoftranslationexercises,thereisalsoabriefEnglishtoEgyptianvocabularylist(seeR
6.Vocabulary),whichindexesthewordsaccordingtotheEnglishalphabet.Completesignlists
followthevocabularies(seeR6.1MasterSignList),togetherwithseveralindexestothesigns
organizedbycategory(seeR6.2IndextoHieroglyphicSignList)andshape(seeR6.3.Signs
ArrangedbyShape).
Thismeansthatstudentsneednoancillarymaterialstoworkthroughthebook.Some,
however,maywanttopurchasemorecomprehensivedictionariesorlexicons.Theonlyauthori
tativedictionaryofMiddleEgyptiancurrentlyavailableinEnglishisR.O.FaulknersAConcise
Dictionary of Middle Egyptian, which students planning to continue their studies of Middle
Egyptianwillcertainlywanttopurchaserelativelysoon.AlsoavailableareD.ShennumsEnglish
EgyptianIndexofFaulknersConciseDictionaryofMiddleEgyptian,areverseindextoFaulkner,as
wellasC.NicholssEnglishtoEgyptianHieroglyphicDictionary.Inaddition,manystudentsfind
helpful G. F. Fischers Ancient Egyptian Calligraphy: A Beginners Guide to Writing Hieroglyphs.
BookstobeavoidedarethemanypublicationsbyE.A.WallisBudgethatremaininprint.Budge
deserves due credit as a pioneer who attempted to make ancient Egyptian texts and other
materialsavailabletoawidepublicatthebeginningofthetwentiethcentury,andsomeofhis
hieroglyphic publications are still usable. However, the transliterations and translations that
38

accompanythemarelongoutofdateandwilltendtoconfuseratherthanenlightenthebeginning
student.
For earlier Egyptian, the standard reference work is A. Erman and H. Grapow (eds.):
WrterbuchderAegyptischenSprache.AkademieVerlag,Berlin19261961.Thisisnowaccessible
online at: http://www.egyptology.ru/lang.htm#Woerterbuch. The most uptodate lexicons,
however, are published in German by Rainer Hannig. The series is currently available in five
installments.Thefirstthreearehandbooks,thelasttwofulldictionariesofEgyptianfromtheOld
Kingdom through the Second Intermediate Period, replete with citations to the Egyptological
corpus.

HannigLexica

1.GroesHandwrterbuch.gyptischDeutsch(2800950v.Chr.).Secondedition.Mainz.1997.
2.WortschatzderPharaoneninSachgruppen.Mainz.1999.
3.gyptischesWrterbuchI:AltesReichundErsteZwischenzeit.Mainz.2003.
4.gyptischesWrterbuchII:MittleresReichundZweiteZwischenzeit.2volumes.Mainz.2006.

ForthosewhoreadFrench,thereisalsoY.BonnamyandA.SadeksDictionnairedesHiroglyphes,
aswellasR.ChabyandK.Gulden,MotsetnomsdelEgypteancienne,2vols.Inaddition,thereis
anonlinesearchenginecurrentlymaintainedbyCambridgeUniversityknownastheBeinlich
Wordlistathttp://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/er/beinlich/beinlich.html.Egyptologyisoneof
the most computerized fields in the humanities, with numerous sites that include texts,
transliterations, other lexicons (such as Demotic), and numerous publications that can be
downloadedinportabledocumentformat(PDF).

Y.BonnamyandA.Sadek.DictionnairedesHiroglyphes.Arles.2010.
R.ChabyandK.Gulden,MotsetnomsdelEgypteancienne,2vols.Paris.2014.
R.O.Faulkner.AConciseDictionaryofMiddleEgyptian.Oxford.1962.
G.F.Fischer.AncientEgyptianCalligraphy:ABeginnersGuidetoWritingHieroglyphs.Fourthedition.New
York.1988.
C.Nichols.EnglishtoEgyptianHieroglyphicDictionary.2009.
D.Shennum.EnglishEgyptianIndexofFaulknersConciseDictionaryofMiddleEgyptian.Lancaster.1977.

I18.GeneralIntroductionstoEgyptianHistoryandCulture

C.Aldred.TheEgyptians.Thirdedition.RevisedbyA.Dodson.London.1998.
J.Assmann.TheMindofEgypt.TranslatedbyA.Jenkins.Cambridge.2003.
J.BainesandJ.Malek.CulturalAtlasofAncientEgypt.Revisededition.NewYork.2000.
D.BrewerandE.Teeter.EgyptandtheEgyptians.Cambridge.1999.
W.Grajetzki.TheMiddleKingdomofAncientEgypt.London.2006.
N.Grimal.AHistoryofAncientEgypt.TranslatedbyI.Shaw.Oxford.1994.
E.Hornung.HistoryofAncientEgypt:AnIntroduction.Secondedition.Ithaca,N.Y.1999.
39

INTRODUCTION

.IdeaintoImage:EssaysonAncientEgyptianThought.NewYork.1992.
H.Kees.AncientEgypt:ACulturalTopography.Chicago.1977.
W.H.Peck.TheMaterialWorldofAncientEgypt.Cambridge,2013.
D.Redford,ed.TheOxfordEncyclopediaofAncientEgypt.3volumes.Oxford.2001.
D.Silverman,ed.AncientEgypt.Oxford,2003.
I.Shaw.Egypt:AVeryShortIntroduction.Oxford.2004.
,ed.TheOxfordHistoryofAncientEgypt.NewYork.2004.
M.vandeMieroop.AHistoryofAncientEgypt.Malden.2010.
Suggestedreadingshereandattheendofeachlessonareintendedtointroducestudentstobasic
bibliographyinEnglishonawiderangeoftopicsinthefieldofEgyptology,generallyconnected
withthecontentorvocabularyofthelessonsandtheremarkswithwhicheachchapterconcludes.
Theyalsoofferreliablesourcestodrawfromforclasspresentations,termpapers,andgeneral
education.

40

Lesson1

1.1.PartsofSpeech

Awordclassisacategoryoflexicalitemsdefinedeitherbyitsmorphologicalbehavioror
itssyntacticfunction.Linguistsdistinguishbetweenopenwordclassesandclosedwordclasses.
Thoseclassesthatareopenconstantlyacquirenewitemsforexample,fromtheOldKingdom
on,EgyptianincorporatedmanynewwordstakenfromtheSemiticlanguagesinthecourseofits
longhistoryofeconomicandpoliticalembroilmentwithMesopotamiaandCanaan:e.g.,Akk.
diarru(atypeofwildcereal)>Eg.dSr [red]grain.1Bycontrast,closedwordclassesrarely,if
ever,acquirenewlexicalitems.
MiddleEgyptiancontainsfiveopenwordclasses:nouns,adjectives,verbs,adverbs,and
interjections.Anadditionaleightwordclassesremainclosed:pronouns,determiners(quanti
fiers, demonstratives, possessives), adpositions (prepositions, postpositions), conjunctions,
clitics,particles,measurewords,andcardinalnumbers.Wewillworkthroughalloftheseparts
ofspeechoverthecourseofthenexttwentylessons,beginningwithnonverbalsentencesand
theproceedingtothestudyoftheverbalsentenceswiththesuffixconjugation.

1.2.Nouns

Nounsareasyntacticcategorythattypicallyincludeswordsthatrefertothings,persons,
places, animals, events, or ideasfor example: train, plumber, Chechnya, iguana, holocaust,
disestablishmentarianism. For the most part, nouns serve in one of the following capacities:
subjectoftheverb,objectoftheverb,indirectobjectoftheverb,orobjectofapreposition.Lin
guistsfurthersubdividenounsbytype:

NOUN

countmasscollective

noun nounnoun

commonnounpropernoun

Acommonnounreferstoaclassofentities,forwhichtherecouldbemanydifferentindividual
items(condom).Bycontrast,apropernounreferstoanentitythatisuniqueinEnglish,proper
nounsaregenerallycapitalized(Baghdad,Cher,Antarctica).Linguistsfurtherdistinguish
betweenthreedifferenttypesofcommonnouns:countnouns,massnouns,andcollectivenouns.
A.Militavev,AkkadianEgyptianLexicalMatchesinPapersonSemiticandAfroasiaticLinguisticsinHonor
ofGeneB.Gragg,ed.C.L.Miller(Chicago,2008).

41

LESSON1

a.Acountnounisacommonnounthatreferstosomethingthatcanbecounted.Hence,it
canoccurinanygrammaticalnumberinMiddleEgyptian:singular,dual,orplural.
Itcanbemodifiedbyanumeral(threeaardvarks),aswellasbyquantificationaldeter
minerssuchasseveral,every,all,many,ormostforexample:certainprincessesor
bothlobsters.

b.Amassnounisacommonnounthatreferstothingsthatcannotusuallybecounted.It
hasthesyntacticpropertythatanyamountofitistreatedasasingleunitand,forthe
most part, it occurs only in the singularEnglish examplesinclude: advice, scotch,
knowledge,cake,semen,wood.Forexample:Thefurniturehasarrived.

c.Acollectivenounisacommonnounthatreferstoagroupofpeopleorthingsthatare
taken together and spoken of as a whole. Examples in English include club or
gang, as well as the various names for packs of animals, such as: a fesnyng of
ferrets.Collectivenounsagreegrammaticallywiththeverbineitherthesingularor
theplural.Likewise,theirpronounsareeithersingularorplural.

As in Arabic, Greek, French, Nahuatl, Georgian, Urdu, and many other languages, nouns in
Egyptianarebuiltofrootsandaffixes(prefixes,infixes,suffixes).InEnglish,thenounspig,pigs,
pigsty,andpigdomallhaveincommonthemorpheme
pig.Itistherootofthesefivewords.Thewordpig
Amorphemeisthesmallestlinguisticunit
itselfconsistsonlyofonemorpheme[=pig+];the
thathassemanticmeaning.Theconceptmor
others are formed by adding affixes to this rootfor
phemediffersfromtheconceptword,asmany
example, the ending s to form the plural. The word
morphemescannotstandaswordsontheir
pigment also contains a phonetic sequence pig, but
own.Amorphemeisfreeifitcanstandalone,
etymologicallyitderivesfromadifferentroot:anouns
orboundifitisusedexclusivelyalongsidea
rootcannotalwaysbededucedfromthewordinisola
freemorpheme.Thewordunbreakablehas
tion!
threemorphemes:un,aboundmorpheme;
Egyptiannounsarebuiltupinthesameway:
break,afreemorpheme;andable,a
boundmorpheme.
thatis,ofrootsandaffixes.2Someconsistonlyofthe
root,whileothershaveoneormoreprefixes,infixes,or
suffixes. For example, on the Egyptian root sA are
formedthewords:sA [=sA+](son),sA.t(daughter),sA.w(sons),sA.wt(daughters),sA.tj
(twins).amongothers.ThereareotherrootscomposedofthesametwoconsonantssA(e.g., sA
back),but,asweshallsee,thesearedistinguishedintheirwriting.
InMiddleEgyptiannounsaredifferentiatedbygenderandbynumber, buttheydonot
exhibitcase.Iftherewereconstruct,pausal,oremphaticformsfortheMiddleEgyptiannoun
asinClassicalHebrewthesedonotshowupinanyoftheEgyptianscribalsystems.

On the abstract nature of Egyptian roots, see Introduction I15. The root of a noun need not be a
substantiveitself.Infact,manynounsderivefromverbs.So,forexample,thenounHfAwsnakederives
fromtherareverbHfA toshuffle:asnakeinEgyptianisthusashuffler.Seefurther,Borghouts1:6365.
2

42

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

1.2.1Gender

Anounclassisagrammaticalsystemthatsomethoughnotalllanguagesemployin
ordertocategorizenouns.Nounclassestendtobebased,atleastinpart,ontheperceivedchar
acteristicsofthereferentitself:male/female,animate/inanimate,rational/nonrational,etc.How
ever, the inclusion of any specific noun in one or another of these categories may be entirely
conventional.Typically,thenumberofnounclassesinanygivenlanguagerangesfromtwoto
twenty,amongwhichallnounsinthelanguagearedividedasaclosedset.Onlyrarelywilla
noun belong indifferently to two or more noun classes. The Zande language, for example,
distinguishesfournounclasses:3

Table1.1.ZandeNounClasses

NounClass

Example

Translation

human(male)

kumba

man

human(female)

dia

wife

animate

nya

beast

other

bambu

house

Basque, however, divides nouns into just two classes: animate and inanimate. Thus, gizona
(man), ama (mother), mutil (boy), and kastore (beaver) all belong to the same class of
animate nouns, while etxea (house), mendi (mountain), and lan (work) all figure as
inanimate. French also divides nouns into two classes, in this case masculine and feminine,
thoughmostnounsareassignedtooneofthesetwocategorieswithafairamountofarbitrariness.
Thus, the word dame (lady) belongs naturally to the feminine class of nouns;4 however,
Frenchalsoassignscrasse(dirt,squalor)tothesamenouncategory,eventhoughtheascription
iswhollyconventional:womenarenotmoresqualidthanmen.
Nounclasses,moreover,fromasystemofgrammaticalagreementwhichremainsobliga
toryinallcontexts.Classesmaybemarkedonthenounitself(cf.Italianfiglio[son]vs.figlia
[daughter]),buttheywillalsoalwaysshowupinotherconstituentsofthesentencethatmark
concordoragreementwiththenoun.Suchfeaturesinclude:agreementaffixesonadjectives,
pronouns,numerals,etc.,aswellasagreementaffixesonverbs.Thus,Latinassignsmetaphora
(metaphor)totheclassoffemininenouns,whichmeansthatanyadjectivethatqualifiesthe
G.G.Corbett,Gender(Cambridge,1991),14.

Cf.J.Butler,GenderTrouble(NewYork,1990).

43

LESSON1

wordmustalsodisplayafeminineaffixforexample,metaphoracontinua(allegory).Similarly,
inArabic,thethirdpersonmasculinesingularoftheverbtowriteiskataba(),whilethe
feminineiskatabat().Onlythefirstpersonsingularkatabtu(:Iwrote)iscommonto
bothnounclasses.
MiddleEgyptianrecognizestwonounclasses,distributedaccordingtogendereitherby
natureorbyconvention.Forthemostpart,nounsareeithermasculineorfeminine,althougha
fewareattestedinbothgenders(seebelow,N.4).Generally,masculinenounsstandunmarked
thatis,theyshownospecificgrammaticalaffixtotheroot.Some,however,taketheendingjor
w,althoughasweakconsonantstheseareoftenomittedinthewriting:

snbrother(m.)

xrpw mallet(m.)

sbA star(m.)

mnwmonument(m.)

nmknife(m.)

nmw dwarf(m.)

Sa container(m.)

Saj sand(m.massnoun)

Almostallfemininenounstaketheendingt,asuffixthatisaddeddirectlytotheroot;thismakes
themparticularlyeasytospot.Certainfemininenouns,however,remainunmarkedthatis,they
donotterminateintandthereforetheirgenderisnotimmediatelyapparentuponinspection.
Masculine versus feminine gender sometimes correlates with sex; for many nouns, however,
genderassignmentisarbitrary.

snbrother(m.)

sn.t sister(f.)

nTr.tgoddess(f.)

nTr god(m.)

p.tsky(f.)

jArr.tvine(f.)

N.1.Itisimportanttokeepinmindthatthefemininetisanaddedending,notanoriginalpart
oftherootitself.Inhieroglyphs,thefeminineendingtisattacheddirectlytotheroot,placed
immediately before the determinative(s), if there are anystudy the writings of the feminine
nounsabove,notingwherethetandwherethedeterminativesareplaced.Intransliteration,
thisgrammarfollowsthewidespreadEgyptologicalconventionofseparatingthefeminineend
ing from the root by adot: p.t, nTr.t, sn.t, andso on. Other publications, however, run them
together(pt, nTrt, snt,andsoon),althoughthistendstomakethemorphologylessclear.

44

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

N.2.Manyplacenamesdonotshowthecharacteristicendingt,butfunctionasfemininegram
maticallynonetheless.Comparetheseexamples:

1rSyriaPalestine(m.)

4T.tAsia(f.)

KAS Nubia(f.)

7HnwLibya(m.)

P Buto(m.)

AbDwAbydos(f.)

N.3.Conversely,somewordsthatendintaremasculine.Thisoccurswhentisnotasuffixbut
thefinalletteroftherootthatis,whenthetbelongstotherootandisnotthefeminineending.
Inthisgrammarthefeminineendingtisalwayspunctuatedwithanantecedentdot;ifthereis
nodot,thetispartoftheroot.Thus,xtwood(m.)versusx.tthing(f.).Amongthemost
commonmasculinenounsinwhichtformspartoftherootare:

xt wood,mast(m.)

xnt face(m.)

jt father(m.)

mtpenis(m.)

jtbarley(m.)

nxt victory(m.)

m(w)tdeath(m.)

Intransliteration,aletterwritteninparentheses[forexample,
m(w)t]representsaconsonantthatbelongstothestemorending,
butisnotwrittenoutinthehieroglyphs.Suchwritingsareoften
calleddefective.

twt statue,image(m.)

N.4. A few nouns exhibit the reverse: morphologically, they are feminine but occasionally, in
othercontexts,theyfunctionasmasculine,usuallywithaslightlydifferentnuanceinthemean
ing. For example x.t when it means thing or things is feminine; however, when it means
something,itistreatedasmasculine(forthepluralstrokes,seebelowunderStrokes;see
also1.2.1.AttributiveAdjectives):

x.t nb.t nfr.t allgoodthings


x.t Smsomethinghot

45

LESSON1

NotethattheadjectiveSmhotismasculine;itlacksthefeminineendingtthatwefind,forexample,in
nfr.t;see1.3.1.AttributiveAdjectives.

N.5. Like many languages (e.g., Latin, Russian), formal Middle Egyptian dispenses with both
definiteandindefinitearticles.Thusthenoundp.t maybetranslatedaboat,theboat,orjust
plainboat,dependingonthecontextinwhichthewordoccurs.ColloquialMiddleEgyptian
almost certainly made use of articles (see Lesson 3, section 3, N.4); however, these are rarely
encounteredinwrittentexts,exceptwheretheyreflectthespokenlanguageforexample,inlet
ters,legalstatements,orintombscenecaptionsasquotationsofpersonsofinferiorsocialstatus.
Thearticlessporadicallyencounteredinsomeliterarypapyrimaywellbelateradditionstothe
textandcannotbetakenwithcertaintytorepresenttheoriginalwriting.Toexpressdefiniteness
andindefiniteness,MiddleEgyptianhasvariousdemonstrativesandperiphrasticphrasesatits
disposal,whichthisbooktreatslater(seeLesson3).MiddleEgyptianalsoreliesmoreoncontext
todeterminedefiniteness,likeotherlanguagesthatlackarticles.

1.2.2.Number

Numberisagrammaticalcategoryofnouns,adjectives,pronouns,andverbagreement
thatexpressescountdistinctionssuchasone,two,threeormore.Suchcountdistinctions
generallycorrespondtotheactualcountoftheitemsreferencedbythetermsomarked,though
thisisnotalwaysthecase.MiddleEgyptian(likeGreek,Tagalog,Gothic,andQuenya)hasthree
classesofnumber:singular,dual,andplural.Thedualisusedprimarilywiththingsthatoccur
naturallyinpairsorthatareperceivedindualisticterms:forexample,feet,ears,sandals,the
TwoLands[i.e.,UpperandLowerEgypt],thetwinobelisks.Twoitemscanalsotakeaplural
countforexampledp.wt theboatscouldmeanthattheindividualinquestionownsjusttwo.
Onlycountnounsoccurfreelyinthesingular,thedual,andtheplural.Massnouns,suchasmw
water, and collective nouns, such as Ab.t family, clan, are always counted as singular and
markedassuchbyadjectives,pronouns,andverbagreement.

Spoken Middle Egyptian indicated grammatical number by declension. In writing,


however,therewerethreeprincipalwaysforindicatingcountdistinctions:declension,replica
tion, and strokes. This is a good example of the way in which the written language operates
independentlyofthespokenidiom.

Declension.Mostcommonly,MiddleEgyptianexpressednumberbyinflectionthatis,
byaddingaboundmorphemetotheroot.Whilethesingularwhethermasculineoffeminine
hasnodeclensiontomarkthenumber,thedualandpluraleachhavedistinctivesuffixesthat
indicatebothgenderandnumberatthesametime.Theformsareasfollows:

46

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Table1.2.Declension

MasculineFeminine

Singular

-t

Dual

-wj

Plural

-tj

-w

-wt

Intransliterationthesuffixesareadded
directlytotheroot.Themeansthatinthe
masculineplural,thewiswrittendirectly
aftertherootinthetransliteration.Inthe
feminineplural,however,thewcomes
beforethefinalt.Hencesn > sn.w,but
sn.t > sn.wt.

Aswiththeendingtofthefemininesingular,thegrammaticalterminationsforthedualandplural
areregularlywrittenbeforethedeterminative(s).Intransliterationtheyareseparatedbyadot:

snbrother

sn.tsister

sn.wjtwobrothers

sn.w brothers

sn.tjtwosisters
sn.wtsisters

Manyscribesomitthewfromtheirwritingofthedualandpluralforms,seeingastheconsonant
wasweak.FromtheEighteenthDynastyon,moreover,thewritingofthefemininepluralalmost
always lacks the w, so that the feminine singular and feminine plural look exactly alike. For
example:

rd.(w)jtwolegs

sn.tsister

sn.(w)tsisters

sA.t
daughter

sA.(w)t daughters

Only context can distinguish between the last two forms. In transliteration therefore, it is
preferabletoplacetheomittedwinparenthesistohelpclarifytheform.

Replication.Therewereotherwaystowritethedualandthepluralwhichcoulddispense
with these suffixal terminations altogether. One of the oldest and most common methods for
expressingthedualconsistedof(a)doublingthelogogramwithwhichthesingularwaswritten.
Writingtheglyphforarmtwicemeanttwoarms.Alternatively,scribesmightwriteoutthe

47

LESSON1

phoneticnotationforthewordandfollowitby(b)aredoublingofthedeterminative.Occasionally,
boththedeclensionalendingsandareduplicationofthedeterminativearefound.Regardlessof
howthedualiswritten,thesuffixterminationsarealwaysemployedinthetransliteration.For
example:

jb.wj twohearts[not: jb jb]

rd.wjthetwolegs

dp.tjtwoboats

jr.tjthetwoeyes

Thesameprinciplecouldalsobeemployedtowritetheplural.Herescribesgenerallydispensed
withthepluralendingsandtrebledthelogogramwithwhichthesingularwaswrittenout.As
withthedual,theyalsosometimessuppliedthephonogrammaticnotationforthesingularand
thentripledthedeterminative.Occasionally,boththedeclensionalendingsandatreblingofthe
determinative are found. With biconsonantal nouns [i.e., nouns whose roots consist of two
consonantsandnomore],scribessometimesrepeatedthewordthreetimesinitsentirety.Inany
case,thetransliterationstillemploysthesuffixendings.

sA.wsons
tp.wheads

Dba.wfingers
Hm.wtwomen

jt.wancestors[<

jtfather]

Notethat
,
,
areallvariantspellingsofthepluralsA.w(sons);each,
however,makesadifferentimpact,andconstitutesadifferenttypeofvisualpoetry.

Strokes. Dual and plural could also be indicated by the addition of linear strokes. The
oblique strokes (dual strokes), placed below or after the writing of the word, commonly
functionedasamarkerofduality.Thetwostrokescouldalsobewrittenvertically( )orhorizon
tally( ).Forexample,thedualfortwoarms[a.wj]mightbewritteninanyofthefollowing
ways,withnodifferenceinmeaningorinconnotation:

or

48

or

or

or

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Pluralstrokes(, )andpluraldots().Similarly,inwrittenMiddleEgyptian,plural
strokesfrequentlyserveasanindicatorofplurality.Occasionally,thescribesalsowroteplural
dots. These strokes or dots were placed immediately below or alongside (that is, after) the
semanticdeterminative.Again,transliterationretainsthecountdeclensions.Forexample

pr house

pr.whouses

or

or

jb.whearts

sA.wsons

mw.wt mothers

Astheseexamplesmakeclear,therewereordinarilymultiplewaystowritethedualorpluralof
anynouninMiddleEgyptian.Infact,differentwaysofwritingtheseformscanbecombined.
However,pluralstrokesandtriplingwereincompatible.Studythefollowingexamples:

Xrd.wchildren

sn.wtsisters
or

Hr.wfaces
nTr.w[< nTrgod]

N.1.Somenounsthatterminateinwj, -tj,w,orw.twerewrittenasiftheyweredualsorplurals
byfalseanalogywiththedeclensionalendings.Asthesefalsedualsandfalsepluralsareactually
singularsandnottruedualsorpluralsthatis,thewj, -tj,w,orw.tterminationsbelongtothe
rootortherootinw plusthefeminineaffix.ttheendingisnotseparatedintransliterationby
adot,excepttomarkthefeminineendingofthesingularwhereappropriate.

Horwhunger

mnwmonument

rnnw.texultation

xAwj evening

pHtj power,strength

mw water

49

LESSON1

N.2.Originally,theobliquestrokesinthedeclensionalendingsforthedual and seemto


havebeendeterminatives,markersofduality.Bytheirassociationwiththewritingoftheduals
wj andtj,however,thesedualstrokeseventuallytookonthephoneticvaluej,andthuscame
tofunctionasaphonogramforjevenoutsidethecontextofthedual.Thesubstitutionisquite
common.Forexample:

jrj pertainingto

mj come!

Othertextstransliteratethephonogramasy,anddistinguishi fromy,aphoneticdifferencethat
itisdifficulttomaintainfromtheevidenceatourdisposal.Here,therefore,wewillcontinueto
transliteratethereedleaf,thedoublereedleaf,andthedualstrokessimplyasj.

1.3.Adjectives

Anadjectiveiswordorlexicalunitthatdescribesanoun,apronoun,oranounphrase.
That is, an adjective designates an attribute or property of the nouns referent. Accordingly,
adjectivesindicatesuchthingsassize(tiny,ginormous),
value (awesome, pointless), condition (rugged, volatile),
Anounphrase(NP)isaphrasewhose
color (ochre, peuce), or weight (airy, leaden). In both
headisanoun.Forexample,thephrase
EnglishandMiddleEgyptianadjectivesservetwodif
themischievousdoghasdogasits
head.Thefollowingsentencecontains
ferentfunctions.Attributiveadjectivesservetoqualifya
twonounphrases,eachofwhichis
nounfor example: a pointless comedy, lonesome
underlined:Thecurrenthealthcrisis
cowboys, a peuce sweater, a ginormous trunk.
maybearesultofpromiscuous
Substantivaladjectives,however,standontheirownand
unprotectedsex.Thesentencecontains
function as nounsfor example: the naked and the
fouradjectives:current,promiscuous,
dead, the idle rich, the hapless poor, the meek
andunprotectedeachmodifiesoneof
[whoshallinherittheearth],etc.Noteintheseexamples
theheadnouns,crisisandsex.
that an attributive adjective can modify a substantival
adjectiveinsofarasthelatterfunctionsasanoun.
Likenouns,adjectivesareinflectedforgenderandnumber,againinoneofthreedifferent
ways(declension,replication,strokes)oracombinationthereof.Thedeclensionoftheadjective
conforms to that of the noun (see Table 1.2. Declension, above). The full paradigm for nfr
(good,beautiful,excellent,perfect)thereforerunsasfollows:

nfr (m.s.)

nfr.wj(m.d.)

nfr.w(m.pl.)

50

nfr.t (f.s.)
nfr.tj(f.d.)
nfr.(w)t(f.pl.)

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Inthefemininepluralthew-israrelywrittenout;therefore,thefemininesingularoftheadjective
andthefeminineplurallookidentical(nfr.t)onlycontextwilldistinguishonefromtheother.
Aswiththedefectivewritingofthefemininepluralnoun,however,thetransliterationplacesthe
omittedwinparentheses.

Bothreplicationanddualorpluralstrokesarealsoquitecommonaswaysofinflectingadjectives
inMiddleEgyptian.Forexample:

txn.wj wr.wjtwogreatobelisks

pr.w aA.wthegreathouses

1.3.1.AttributiveAdjectives

InEnglish,attributiveadjectivesgenerallyprecedethatnounthattheyqualifye.g.anawesome
dude, two brilliant women. As a general rule in classical Egyptian, however, modifiersof
whatevertypetakesecondposition,followingthewordthattheydescribe.Accordingly,inMiddle
Egyptiananattributiveadjectivefallsimmediatelyafterthenounthatitqualifies,althoughin
someconstructionsitisalsopossiblethatotherwordswillintervene.Anattributiveadjective,
moreover agrees in gender and in number with the noun that it modifies. Gender and number
markersgenerallyprecedeanydeterminative(s).

hj Xsjavilehusband

dp.t aA.talargeboat

Xrd.w onj.wbravechildren

sA.wt nfr.(w)t goodsisters[notetheomissionofthew]

jr.tj Dw.tjtwoevileyes

Ifanattributiveadjectivereferstoentitiesofmorethanonegender,itisputinthemasculine.
Adjectives that modify words that are feminine, such as KAS (Nubia), but lack the feminine
endingt,exhibitthetintheattributiveadjective:

KAS Xsj.tvileNubia

51

LESSON1

1.3.2.SubstantivalAdjectives

InMiddleEgyptian,adjectivescanbeusedascommonnouns.Inthefemininesingular,however,
thenotionisabstractthemeaninghereissomethingakintocertainusesoftheneuterinIndo
Europeanlanguages.

Adjectivesusedascommonnouns.Theadjectivecanstandonitsownasanoun,asregularly
inFrench,Greek,Latin,andoccasionallyinEnglish(forexample,therich,thebeautiful,the
famous). In Standard English, substantival adjectives are usually either mass or collective
nouns.InEgyptian,however,almostanyadjectivecanbenominalized:theskillful[woman],
thehandsome[man],andsoon.Wherethegenderofthenounorindividualsisspecified,the
corresponding form is used. When used with persons, deities, or animals, an appropriate
determinativeindicatingthespeciesisalmostalwaysadded.Forexample:

nDs small>

nDscommoner

aAgreat>

aA.ttheGreatGoddess

nfr beautiful>

nfr.tabeautifulcow

Dwevil>

Dw.tanevilwoman

Abstract use of the feminine singular. The feminine singular of the adjective can be used
independently as a substantive to refer to a quality in the abstract. The sense is similar to the
neuterformoftheadjectiveinGreek( [toagathon]theGood),buttheparallelcanbe
misleadingbecausethereisactuallynoneutergenderinEgyptian.Theformsarefeminineand
normallyoccurinthesingular,althoughpluralsareattested.

Xsj.tdebility

Dw.tevil

onj.tstrength

Dictionariesindexallformsaccordingtotheirroot,inthearbitraryorderassignedthemonocon
sonantalsigns.Fornounsandadjectivesthismeansthattheentrywillappearfirstunderwhat
appears as the masculine singular. However, all forms of that root (that is, the root + bound
morpheme[s])arelistedtogether,evenifnodictionaryiscompleteinthisregard.Hence,along

52

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

with the form Ab, one finds Ab.t, Abj, Abw before progressing on to AbAb, Abb, Abnn, and so on.
Similarly,whilex.t (thing)occursnearthebeginningoftheentriesunder#, xt(wood)occurs
towardtheend,sinceinthefirstcasethetisanaffixedmorpheme(theregularmarkerofthe
femininegender),whileinthelaterthefinaltformspartoftheroot(seeN.3.above,under1.2.1.
Gender): the root x- precedes the root xt. Because this method of indexing is relatively far
removed from the way English or other Europeanlanguage dictionaries are set up, for most
students this takes some getting used to. At first this is bound to be time consuming, and
beginnerswillmakenumerousmistakes.Twoverycommonsigns,forexample,thataredifficult
todistinguisharethefollowingpairofbirds:

G36

wr

G37
ThedeterminativefornDs andothertermsassociatedwithmisfortuneorevil

Thetailontheformerfansoutward,butonthelatterthetailisclosedandrounded.Learning
howtouseanEgyptiandictionaryisanimportantpartoftheprocessoflearningtoreadMiddle
Egyptian,nomatterhowfrustratingthisinitiallymaybe.Allwordsusedinthisgrammarare
indexedinthelexiconinthesectionlabeledVocabularyatthebackofthebook.

53

LESSON1

Vocabulary1

Ab.tfamily,household,clan

nDs small

jbheart

r mouth;door,opening;speech,spell

jr.t eye

jt father(m.)1

rmTperson,humanbeing
rmTpeople

Thef inthehieroglyphicspelling
father
hasnotbeenadequatelyexplained,althoughthereare
manytheories.Inanycase,itissilent,anintegral
partofthespellingbutevidentlynotpronounced.
Henceitshouldnotbeincludedinthetransliteration.

rd lowerlegincludingthefoot

hAw parents

hjhusband

a arm

Hbsj.t secondwife(legal)

wDa.t divorcedwoman

aAlarge,great

Hm.twoman,wife

Hr face(n.)
bA soul

prhouse

X.tbelly,body,womb

Xrw immediatefamily,relatives

pHwj anus,rearend[falsedual]
fnD nose

mw.tmother

Xrdchild
Xsjcowardly,vile,weak
sj man

nfrbeautiful,good,perfect

sj.twoman

54

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

kA lifeforce

sA back

sAson

tphead

Dwbad,evil

sA.tdaughter

Dba finger

sn brother;cousin

Dr.thand

sn.t sister;cousin

mschild

onj brave,strong

Deities

nTr god;

nTr.t goddess

6m AtumgreatprimevaldeityofHeliopolis,theLordofTotality(CTIII27),creator
PtH PtaholdestattesteddeityinEgypt,bothacraftsmanandacreator;seatinMemphis
1w.t-1r HathorliterallyEstateofHorus;femalecreatorgod,MistressoftheVagina

Atum

Ptah

Hathor

55

LESSON1

Biconsonantals

Thevariousbiandtriconsonantalsignswill
beintroducedastheycomeupinthevoca
bulary for each lesson. These need to be
committed to memory with the same firm
nessasthewordsthemselvesinwhichthey
occur.

Hm
Hr
Xr
sA
sA

Ab

sn

jr

tp

aA

TA

pr

Dw

Triconsonantals

ms
nm

nfr

Ba
Ka

56

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Exercises

A.TranslatethefollowingphrasesfromMiddleEgyptianintoEnglish.Givethetransliterationas
wellasthetranslation.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

57

LESSON1

B.TranslatethefollowingphrasesfromEnglishintoMiddleEgyptian.Writeoutthehieroglyphs
aswellasthetransliteration.WordsnotinthevocabularylistabovecanbefoundintheEnglish
EgyptiandictionaryinPartThree(seeR6.2.EnglishEgyptian).

1.avileman

2.thebravewoman

3.asmallchild

4.abadthing

5.twonoses

6.anevilbrother

7.abeautifulson

8.thetwinKas

9.alargeanus

10.braveparents

Forhelpinwritinghieroglyphs,seeH.G.Fischer,AncientEgyptianCalligraphy:ABeginnersGuide
toWritingHieroglyphs,3rded.NewYork,1988;andH.Jenni,Lehrbuchderklassischgyptischen
Sprache.Basel,2010:2954.

58

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

FurtherReading

T.Allen.TheAncientEgyptianFamily.NewYork,2009.
R.Baligh,ThreeMiddleKingdomStelaefromtheEgyptianMuseuminCairo,JARCE44(2008):16984.
M.Biebrier.TermsofRelationshipatDeirElMedina.JEA66(1980):1007.
C.J.Bleeker.1973.HathorandThoth:TwoKeyFiguresoftheAncientEgyptianReligion.Leiden.
A.CapelandG.Markoe,eds.MistressoftheHouse,MistressofHeaven.Cincinnati,1996.
J.ern.ConsanguineousMarriageinPharaonicEgypt.JEA40(1954):2329.
M. elAmir. Monogamy, Polygamy, Endogamy, and Consanguinity in Ancient Egyptian Marriage.
BIFAO62(1964):1037.
C.Eyre.CrimeandAdulteryinAncientEgypt.JEA70(1984):92105.
H.Fischer.EgyptianWomenoftheOldKingdomandtheHeracleopolitanPeriod.NewYork,1989.
E.Feucht,FamilyinTheOxfordEncyclopediaofAncientEgypt,ed.D.B.Redford.3vols.(NewYork,2001),
1:501504.
M.Fitzenreiter,ed.GenealogieRealittundFiktionvonIdentitt(London,2005).
A.Gardiner.AdoptionExtraordinary.JEA26(1940):2329.
S.Gould.ANewSystemfortheFormalAnalysisofKinship.Lanham,2000.
N.Kanawati.PolygamyintheOldKingdomofEgypt?SAK4(1976):14060.
B.Lesko,ed.WomensEarliestRecordsfromAncientEgyptandWesternAsia.Atlanta,1989.
C.LviStrauss.LesStructureslmentairesdelaparent.Paris,1949.
.Anthropologiestructurales.Paris,1958.
K. McCorquodale. 2013. Representations of the Family in the Egyptian Old Kingdom: Women and Marriage. Oxford,
2013.:
L.Meskell.IntimateArchaeologies.WorldArchaeology29(1998):36379.
.PrivateLifeinNewKingdomEgypt.Princeton,2002.
R. Middleton. BrotherSister and FatherDaughter Marriage in Ancient Egypt. American Sociological
Review27(1962):60322.
A.NurelDin.TheRoleofWomeninAncientEgyptianSociety.Cairo,1995.
P.Pestman.MarriageandMatrimonialPropertyinAncientEgypt.Leiden,1961).
R.Preys.1994.Hathorauxmultiplesvisages:portraitdunedesse.DeScriba3:199.
J.Revez,TheMetaphoricalUseoftheKinshipTernsnBrother,JARCE40(2003):12331.
G.Robins.RelationshipsSpecifiedbyEgyptianKinshipTermsoftheMiddleKingdom,CdE54(1979):
197217.
.WomeninAncientEgypt.Secondedition.Cambridge,2008.
M.Sahlins.WhatKinshipisandisNot.Chicago,2013.
E.L.Schusky.ManuelforKinshipAnalysis.2nded.Lanham,1983.
W.K.Simpson,PolygamyinEgyptintheMiddleKingdom?JEA60(1974):100105.
K. ScheeleSchweitzer, Zu einigen Verwandtschaftsbezeichnungen in Grabdarstellungen des Alten
ReichesundihrergeographischenVerbreitung,SAK37(2008):22954.
J.Tyldesly,J.DaughtersofIsis:WomeninAncientEgypt.London,1994.
S.Whale.TheFamilyintheEighteenthDynastyofEgypt.Sydney,1989.
H.Willems.ADescriptionofEgyptianKinshipTerminologyoftheMiddleKingdom,c.20001650BC.

59

LESSON1

AkhenatenandhisfamilyworshiptheAten
18thDynasty

60

Lesson2

2.1.NounPhrases

In its most basic form, a noun constitutes a single lexical item (shampoo), to which
affixesofvarioussortsmaybeaddedforexample:Eng.rutabaga(sing.)rutabagas(pl.);Heb.
midbardesertmidbarhtothedesert.Suchaffixesaregenerallymorphemes.Inmany
languages, however, including English, it is also possible to combine two nouns to indicate a
singleentity.Forexample,theEnglishidiomjunkfoodconjoinstwoseparatenouns(junk
andfood)torefertocomestiblesthatsomepeopleconsiderunhealthyorsubpar.Ortakethe
exampleofminkstole,whichreferstoastolemadeoutofmink.Theresultinboththesecases
iswhatgrammarianscallacompoundnoun,thatis,acombinationoftwonounsinwhichthefirst
nounbehavesasifitwereanadjective.
Aphraseingrammaticalanalysisreferstoasingle
Forexplanatorypurposesitisusefulto
elementofsyntaxgenerallycomprisedofmorethanone
distinguishgrammarfromsyntax.Gram
word, but which lacks the subjectpredicate structure
martraditionallyreferstotheformthat
typicalofaclause.LikeEnglish,MiddleEgyptianalso
individualwordstakeastheyappearin
employs phrases compounded of one or more nouns,
anygivenutterancenouns,adjectives,
butheretheusagestowhichsuchconstructionsareput
verbs,andsoon,intheirrespective
are very different. In general, Middle Egyptian abuts
declensionsorconjugations.Syntax
two nouns to express one of three possible relations:
(fromtheGreeksun[with]+taxis
possession,apposition,orconnection.Technically,then,
[order])referstothearrangementof
whatresultshereisnotacompoundnounpersebutra
wordsastheyfollowoneanotherina
phrase,aclause,asentence,oranylarger
theranounphrasethatis:aphrasewhoseheadisanoun
unitofdiscourse.Forexample,gramma
orapronoun,optionallyaccompaniedbyasetofmodi
tically,adjectivesagreeingenderand
fiers(SeeLesson1.3Sidebar).Thephraseconsistsof
numberwiththenounsthattheymodify;
twoormorewords,whiletheheadofaphraseisthe
syntactically,theyfollowthenounto
word that determines its syntactic type, in this case a
whichtheyrefer(forexample,sn.w
noun.SoinMiddleEgyptian,anounphrasemightlook
nfr.w).Grammatically,sn.wismasculine
somethinglikethis:
plural,whilesyntacticallytheadjective

nfr.wmodifiesitsantecedent,withwhich

NP

hAw
itagreesgrammaticallyingenderand

number.

N
hAw
ms.w
parentschildren

theparentsofthechildren

LESSON2

Nounphrasessuchasthiscanundercertaincircumstancesfunctionasasinglegrammatical
unit,particularlyinthesyntaxforpossession,whichistheconstructionillustratedhere.Seesec
tion2.2immediatelybelow.

2.2.SimplePossession

Anadnominalisanyelementinanounphrasewhichmodifiesanounsuchasadjectives,
prepositionalphrases,orpossessivenouns;forexample:theredrat,theratinmybase
ment,theratstail.Inapossessiveconstructiontheownerisadnominaltowhateverentityis
owned.Thesenseofpossessionherehastobeconstruedintermsthatarerelativelybroad
thatis,notonlythecatspajamasbutalsothereturnoftheking.Englishexpressesthissense
ofpossessioninnounphrasesoftwodifferentsorts:

1. By use of the residual genitive case: s (that is, apostrophe s)the Presidents
plane,mymothersfourthmartini,andTheWintersTale.

2. Byplacingtheprepositionofbetweenthetwonounsornounphrasesthebottom
ofthesea,thewretchedoftheearth,andthebestyearsofourlives.

InEgyptiantherewerealsotwodifferentwaystoexpresspossession.Thechoiceofoneoverthe
otherdependedmainlyontheclosenessoftherelationshipthatthewriterwantedtoexpress:
closerrelationsemployedatwonounjuxtaposition;looserrelationsusedanounmodifiedbyan
adverbialphrase.Cultural,formulaic,orcontextualfactorsmayalsohavedictatedthechoiceof
one over the other, although in practice we find a fair amount of overlap between these two
differentwaysofexpressingpossession.Intheend,thedifferencemaysimplyhavebeenstylistic.

2.2.1.TheDirectGenitive

Thedirectgenitiveisaboundconstruction,whichplacesanounornounphraseinfront
ofthethingpossessedorotherwisebelongingtoit.Inotherwords,thepossessornounalways
comessecondinthesequence.

a.wj Xrdthetwoarmsofthechild

sA 1w.t-1rHathorsson

pr sn.tthesistershouse

tp hjthehusbandshead

62

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

InspokenEgyptian,thefirstnouninthephrasemayhavebeeninconstructform,thatis,it
mayhaveexhibitedachangeinform,vowelingorstress.InHebrew,forexample,theabsolute
(i.e.,uninflected)stateofthepluralsformbooksisthrownintoconstructstatewhenitbecomes
anobjectofpossession:sifrMoehthebooksofMoses.Giventheevidenceatourdisposal,if
therewereaconstructstateinMiddleEgyptianthiswouldhaveinvolvedonlyachangeinthe
vowelingorstress,notachangeintheconsonantalroot,whichremainsuniforminpossessive
constructions.Inhieroglyphsnocasemarkerisaddedtothefirstnoun,nordoesanypreposition
orparticleintervenebetweenthetwonouns;infact,withfewexceptions,nothingeverintervenes
betweentwonounsinboundconstruction.Somepossessiveconstructionsconstituteidiomsin
effectsetofdeadmetonymswhichmustbelearnedadhoc.Soforexample:

s.t-jbaffection

tp-rA utterance

Thefirstcompoundreadsliterally:theplace[s.t]ofthe
heart [jb],which means idiomatically affection. The
second noun phrase reads: tip [tp] of the mouth [rA],
whichisonewaytoexpressthenotionofutterancein
MiddleEgyptian.
In the case of such compound expressions, mo
dern scholars conventionally link the nouns with a
hyphen in transliteration, even though there is no such
markerintheoriginalEgyptian.FromCopticweknow
thattheboundconstructioninMiddleEgyptianaffected
wordstressinthespokenidiom.Thisisofnoimportance,
however, for hieroglyphs as a writing system, because
vowels,vowelreduction,andstressare,withfewexcep
tions,notrepresentedintheclassicalscript.

Aprepositionlinksnouns,pronouns,and
phrasestootherwordsinasentence.The
wordorphrasethatthepreposition
introducesiscalledtheobjectofthe
preposition.Aprepositionusuallyindicates
thetemporal,spatial,orlogicalrelationship
ofitsobjecttotherestofthesentence.For
example,Thecomputerwasinherbag.
Shereadheremailduringclass,then
loggedontoFacebooktoseeifanyonehad
leftheramessage.LikeEnglish,Egyptian
hasbothsimpleprepositions(in)and
compoundprepositions(inlieuof).For
acumulativelistofMiddleEgyptian
prepositions,seeR4.ListofBasic
PrepositionsinPartThree.

2.2.2.TheIndirectGenitive

Thesecondmeansforexpressingpossession(commonlyknownastheindirectgenitive)
linkstwonounsbywayofagenitivaladjective.OneofthedistinctivefeaturesofMiddleEgyptian
isthelargeandubiquitouscategoryofadjectivesthatderivedirectlyeitherfromnounsoroddly
enoughformodernAngloRomancespeakersfromprepositions.Thesearetraditionallycalled
nisbaadjectives,atermborrowedfromArabicgrammar;theyareformedbyaffixingajtothe
endofthenounorpreposition.Forfullertreatmentofnisbaadjectives,seeLesson4.
Forthemoment,wewillconsideronlythenisbaadjectivederivedfromthepreposition
nto/for:n+j>nj.Basically,thenisbaadjectivederivedfromnmeansbelongingto,but
idiomaticallyitisequivalenttotheEnglishof.Aswithalladjectives,itfollowsthenounthatit

63

LESSON2

qualifies,withwhichitmustagreeingenderaswellasnumber.Hereisitsdeclensionchartedin
full:
Table2.1.TheGenitiveAdjective

MasculineFeminine

nj

Singular

n(j).wj

Dual

Plural

n(j).w

n(j).t

n(j).tj

n(j).(w)t

Becausethegenitivaladjectiveisformedfromapreposition,asanattributiveadjectiveitnotonly
modifies the antecedent noun. Asa prepositional adjective, it can alsotake an object. Hence its
utilityinexpressingrelationsofpossession.Agoodexampleofhowthegenitivaladjectiveworks
istheconventionaltermfortheEgyptianlanguage:

rA nj km.t
speechthatbelongingtoEgyptthespeechofEgypt=spokenEgyptian

Asanadjective,nj(m.s.)modifiesthenounrA(speech)(m.s.),andasapreposition,ittakesKm.t
(Egypt[f.s.])asitsobject.Thegenitivaladjectivealwaysagreeswiththeantecedentnoun,never
withitsobjectasapreposition.ThesameconstructionisusedtoindicateaninhabitantofEgypt:

rmT nj Km.t
amanthatbelongingtoEgyptamanofEgypt=anEgyptian

InspokenMiddleEgyptian,theweakconsonantsjandwwereintheprocessofdisappearing,
particularlyattheendofwords,sothatinpracticethearchaicjofthegenitivaladjectiveisrarely
written,atleastinMiddleEgyptianhieroglyphs.Ifindicatedatallinthetransliteration,thejis
conventionallyplacedwithinparentheses.

64

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Saj n(j) dSr.tthesandofthedesert

ns n(j) Xrdthetongueofthechild

mrj.tn(j).tjtrwthebankoftheriver

Notethestackinghere
acrosswordboundaries.
Thedeterminativeforns
(tongue)isplaced
directlyoverthedefective
writingofn(j).

sbA.w n(j).w p.tthestarsofthesky

HD-tA n(j) kj hrw thedawnofanotherday

X.t n(j).t mw.tthemotherswomb

Inotherinstancesthemasculinepluraln(j).w( )notonlyomitstheweakvowelj,buttendsto
bereducedentirelytothesimplerwriting
n(j.w).Thisalsooccurswiththefeminineformsas
wellaswithduals.

sj.wt n(j.wt) sx.t thewomenofthemarshland

a.wj n(j.wj)Nw.tthearmsofNut

sA.t n(j.t) sn n(j) Gb the daughterofthebrotherofGeb

Partlyforthisreason,manyEgyptologistsdonotbothertotranscribetheweakjinanyofthe
formsofthegenitivaladjective,althoughwewillcontinuetodosointhisbook.Inactuality,this
meansthatinbothhieroglyphicandtranscriptionalpractice,theformsofthegenitivaladjective
inMiddleEgyptianareformostintentsandpurposesrestrictedtothree:n,n.t,andn.w.

N.1.Inbothhieroglyphsandinmanytransliterations,thesimplepreposition
n(to,for)
looksidenticaltothemasculinesingularofthegenitivaladjective
n(j)[seebelowsection2.4].
WhenconfrontedwiththephraseNounX
NounY,readersmustdistinguishfromcontext
whetherthismeanstheXto/fortheYortheXof[thatis,belongingto]theY.Thiscausesno
endofdifficulty(andfrustration!)forbeginningstudentsbutquicklybecomesclearerwithabit
ofpractice.

N.2.Morecomplexwaysofexpressingpossessionsuchashiscarorthehousebelongstomy
auntwillbetreatedinsubsequentlessons.

65

LESSON2

2.3.Apposition

Asinmanylanguages,includingEnglish,nounsandnounphrasesthatrefertothesamething
can be set side by side. This is called apposition. An example in English is: Millard Fillmore,
thirteenth President of the United States. Often, as here, one noun phrase is a proper name
(MillardFillmore),theotheramoregeneraldesignationsuchasatitle(thirteenthPresidentof
theUnitedStates).InEgyptianonenounornounphraseissetinappositiondirectlyafterthe
other,usuallywithoutanyinterveningwordsorparticles.Appositionisaparticularlycommon
feature of titularies, where either the name or the title(s) may come first, as well as of divine
epithets.Morethanonephrasemayfollowtheheadnounorpropername.Forexample:

3nmw nTr nfr Khnum,theperfectGod

Ra-ms sA Hbsj.tRamose,sonofthesecondwife

In English,as in mostmodern Romance languages, a comma separates theword or phrase in


apposition to the noun or proper name. Middle Egyptian, texts, however have no interpunc
tuationofthissort.

2.4.Connection
Itisalsopossibletoconnectwordsthatdonotrefertothesamereferent.Thus,inEnglish
thewordandisusedtolinktwononidenticalbutgrammaticallycoordinatednouns:catsand
dogs,angelsanddemons,ThePrinceandthePauper,andsoon.Bycontrast,thewordor
distinguishesnounsthatrepresentalternatives,whetherthesealternativesaremutuallyexclusive
ornot:menorboys,hardorsoft,andsoon.Thesetwotypesofphrases(andversusor)
areknownrespectivelyasconjunctionanddisjunction.Inneitheroftheseconstructions,however,
iseithernounadnominaltotheother.
Veryoccasionally,theterminappositiondoesnotfollowdirectlyuponthenounorname
withwhichitiscoordinated;instead,ashortphrase,particle,orpronounintervenes.Forexample,
sA smsw m Hrj jrj nTr nfr 4-n(j)-Wsr.t (the elder son, in his capacity as master, the perfect god,
Senworset).
2.4.1.Conjunction
InClassicalEgyptianthecoordinationbetweentwoormorenounsisrarelymarkedin
anyformalmanner.Rather,MiddleEgyptiantendstoenumeratesubstantivesparatactically
that is, seriatim, without lexical connectors. This means that conjunction can only be dis
tinguishedfromappositionbyinferencefromthegeneralsenseofthepassageasawhole.There

66

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

isnointerveningpunctuationsuchastheEnglishcommaorwordseparatesasinEthiopic,nor
anywordforand.

jt mw.t ms.w n(j).w pr


thefather,mother,andchildrenofthehouse

ahead,twoeyes,andamouth
ParataxisofthissortamarkedstylisticfeatureofwrittenEgyptianatboththemorphemicand
lexical level (for examples of morphemic duplication, see Lesson 7 on replicated roots and
geminating verbs)is repeated on a higher order in more complex syntactical and narrative
structures, with farreaching consequences for Egyptian literary composition as a whole. The
Papyrus Westcar, for example, contains five independent stories told seriatim within an over
archingframetale.

Occasionally,apreposition,singlyorinrepetition,servestomarkthecoordination.Most
commonhereare Hna (with), Hr (upon), m (consistingof), or mj (like).

hAw Hna ms.wtheparentsand[their]children

grH Hr hrwnightandday

m Dba m ns m jnH consistingofafinger,atongue,andaneyebrow

Evenhereforexamplethesemanticsoftherepeatedm(m...m...m)areneverquitethe
equivalentofEnglishand.Rather,theyservetounderscoretheserialnatureoftheenumeration
(appositio,asyndeton)inamannerthatisstylisticallydistinct.

2.4.2.Disjunction

Likecoordination,disjunctioninMiddleEgyptiantendstohavenoformalmarkingandis
usuallyexpressed,onceagain,byplacingonenounornounphraseafteranother.

sn sn.tabrotherorasister[literally:brother,sister]

67

LESSON2

Hr Km.t Hr xAs.wtinEgyptorinforeignlands
n sA n sA.t forasonoradaughter
Contextislikelytobetheonlyindicatorastowhethertheseriesiscoordinatedordisjunctive.It
wasalsopossible,however,tomarkthedisjunctionmoreclearlybyplacingtheencliticparticle
rA-pweitherbetweenthetwonounsor,morecommonly,afterthesecondnoun.Occasionally,rApwoccursafterboth.Sometimes,theparticlealsoappearsabbreviatedaspw.

jt mw.t rA-pw
thefatherorthemother[literally:father,motherwhichever)]

Hr dba.w Hr Dr.t rA-pwonthefingersoronthehand

m rA r-pw m pH.wj rA-pwbythemouthorbytheanus


N.1.Acliticisalexicalunitthatisneitheranaffixnorawordonitsown.Anenclitic,suchasrApw,leansbackintothewordthatimmediatelyprecedesit.Generally,encliticshavenoaccent
oftheirownbutremainlinkedphonologicallytothewordthatimmediatelyprecedesit.Egyptian
alsomakesuseofproclitics,whichleanforwardontothewordtheimmediatelyfollows.The
most common of theseare jw and
nj, both of which we will encounter in subsequent
lessons.

2.5.Prepositions

Prepositionswhichwehavealreadyencounteredinseveraldifferentcapacitiesarea
classofwordswhichgenerallyserveoneofthreefunctions:(1)theylocateanentityintimeor
space (in the bedroom, under the house, after the ball, between them); (2) they specify the
circumstances under which something has occurred (despite her temper; because of his
innocence;exceptformothersdrinking;intheinterestsofmysanity);or(3)theyintroducethe
indirectobjectofatransitiveverb(e.g.,shegavethehousetoAnnieSprinkle;mybrotherplayed
the piano for his girlfriend. As the name implies, prepositions stand first in their clause
whereintheytypicallycombinewithanoun,apronoun,oranounphrase,whichgrammarians
calltheobjectofthepreposition.Accordingly,thebasicstructureofaprepositionalphrasein
MiddleEgyptianasinEnglish,isasfollows:

PREPOSITION+NOUN/PRONOUN/NOUNPHRASE[OBJECT]

68

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

AsinEnglish,InMiddleEgyptianprepositionsmaybesimple(e.g.,to)orcompound(with
theexceptionof).Forthemostpart,MiddleEgyptianmakesuseofsimpleprepositionswhich
consistofalexicalunitthatmay,dependingonthecontext,haveseveraldifferentmeanings.The
mostcommonofthesimpleprepositionsshouldbecommittedimmediately:

m in;with,bymeansof;from,outof:

m pr inthehouse

nto,for,in,becauseof:
r

to,from,concerning,against:

Hna with,togetherwith:

n $nmw forKhnum
r @w.t @r againstHathor
Nw.t Hna Gb NutalongwithGeb

Hr on,over,from,along:

Hr ns onthetongue

Notethateachoftheseprepositionshasarangeofsometimescontradictorymeanings.So,for
example,thephrase
couldmeaninthehouse.However,itcouldalsomeanoutofthe
houseorfromthehouse.Givenadifferentobject,sayknife(sAx),thephrasemsAx might
meaneitherwithaknifeorbymeansofaknife.Thesamemultiplicityofmeaningslikewise
attends most other prepositions, where again context serves as the only guide for narrowing
downthepossibilities.InMiddleEgyptianpoetryandnarrativeliterature,however,oftentwo
(ormore)sensesoftheprepositionmayberelevantatthesametime.
Less common simple prepositions and compound prepositions will be introduced as
necessaryinthecourseofthesucceedinglessons.
2.6.Alterity
Ingeneral,Egyptianculturewashighlyxenophobicandextantartandliterature,fromthe
Predynasticperiodon,betraysanalmostunremittinganxietyaboutothers(kj.w)whomEgyp
tiansfearedwoulddescendupontheland,turnthesocialworldupsidedown,andsodisturbthe
cosmicorder.Hencetheubiquitousrepresentationsofthekinginallperiodssmitinghisfoes,or
presidingintriumphoverrowsofdecapitatedbodies.Thus,intheburialchamberofUnis,whose
wallsdisplaytheearliestextantsetofhieroglyphictexts,weread:Ho,RedCrown!Ho,Great
One!Ho,GreatinMagic!Ho,FieryOne.MayyoumakeUnisferocitylikeyourferocity...May
you make his knife sturdy against his enemies.1 In fact, Rainer Hannigs Deutsch gyptisch
Handwterbuchlistsnolessthanfifteendifferenttermsforenemy.2Followingthisculturallogic,
J.P.Allen,TheAncientEgyptianPyramidTexts(Atlanta,2005),39;modified.

RHannig,GroesHandwterbuchDeutschgyptisch(Mainz,2000),39899.

69

LESSON2

then, to express the notion of alterity (an/the other), Egyptian deploys the noun: kj. Often
mistakenforanadjective,kj doesnotmeandifferentasintheEnglishphraseadifferent[girl].
Rather,itmeansotherasinanother[girl].Thenounisattestedonlyinthesingularandthe
plural.3

2.2.Other
MasculineFeminine

Singular

Plural

k(j)

k(j).t

kj.w(j)

k(j.w)t

Whenthenounkjprecedesanothernoun,itdoesnotmodifythatword.Instead,thesecondterm
issetagainstkjinapposition.Whatthephrasek.t Hm.tliterallymeansisanother[feminine],a
wife.Ascanbeseenintheseexamples,kjtakesthegenderandthenumberofthenounwith
whichitstandsinapposition.

kj snanotherbrother

kj.wj tp.wotherheads

Since kj is a noun, it can also stand alone with a determinative that indicates what the other
thingis.

kjanotherman

k.t [Ax.t] anotherhorizon

Thephrasekjkjisusedtomeanoneanother,asinthesentenceHpt.n kj kjTheyembracedone
another.Likewise,thelocutionkj...kjmeanstheone...theotherforexample:jw wA.t=f kj
Xr mw, kj Xr SajItsonesidewasunderwater,theotherundersand.Unsurprisingly,theplural
kj.wj / kj.wcanmeanothersinthesenseofstrangersorforeigners.
SeeZonhoven1:5354.

70

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

2.7.TheVocative
Avocativeisadirectaddresstoanindividualorgroup.InEgyptianthereisnospecialcaseor
form to mark direct address, as there is, for example, in the Latin domine (e.g., O Lord <
dominus).Asentencemaybeginwithadirectaddress,endwithit,orinsertthedirectaddressat
somepointinthemiddleforemphasis.Itmaynot,however,interruptasequenceofwordsthat
belongscloselytogether.Ordinarily,nointroductoryparticlewasused,butinhighstyle.24
onesometimesfindsoneofthefollowingvocativeparticles.

hj

j 1w.t-1r mw.t aA.t OHathor,greatmother...

hj Gb hj nj Nw.t HoGeb,husbandofNut...

Vocatives that lack an introductory particle must be distinguished by context from nouns in
appositionorservingothersyntacticalfunctionsinthesentence.

n-m jnj tw nDsWhobroughtyou,littleman?

Notehowthevocativeissimplytackedonattheend,withoutanyinterveningmarker.Occa
sionally,avocativecanoccurinthemiddleofaphraseaswell.

mk wj r nHm aA=k nDs Hr wnm=f Sma=j


Look,Iamgoingtotakeawayyourdonkey,littleman,whichiseatingmybarley.

71

LESSON2

Vocabulary2

mSrw evening

Aw long(adj.);length(n.)

nHD.t tooth,tusk;var.pl.

Ax.t horizon

ns tongue

jaH moon

jwf flesh

jnH eyebrow

jtn thesundisc

wA.troad,way

wsx broad,wide(adj.);breadth(n.)

a.t limb,member

an.t nail(fingerortoe)

anx.wj earlobes[dual]

p.t sky
pHwj anus,rectum,rearend

fnD nose

mwwater

mrj.t bank,shore
msDr ear(asorganofhearing)

rasun;

hrwday,daytime

Hbsw.t beard

HD white,shining

HD-tAdawn

x.tthingorthings;something

xAs.thillcountry,foreignland

Ha.w limb,body(pl.)

sAH toe

sAtwground,earth

sbA star

sp.t lip

sx.t field,country,marshland

Sj lake,pool;garden

72

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

Snj hair

grHnight

tAland(n.)

Sajsand

dwA.tDuat,theunderworld

oAj tall,exalted,presumptuous

Km.ttheBlackLand[i.e.,Egypt]

Prepositions,Particles,andsuch

dSr.ttheRedLand[thatis,desert]

j,

hjvocativeparticles

min;with,bymeansof;from,outof

mj like,as
nto,for,in,becauseof(prep.)

njof[genitivaladj.]
r to,from,concerning,against
rA-pwor(compoundparticle)

Hnawith(prep.)

Dj anx mj Ra D.t
GivenlifelikeR` forever

Hr upon,in,at,from,through,andonaccountof,concerning(prep.)
kj other(n.)

Deities

Nw.tNutgoddessofthesky
GbGebgodoftheearth

73

LESSON2

Theskyarchingoverthe
earthasGebpreparestope
netrateNut,underascarab
withagoatshead,bearing
thehieroglyphsfoenfr.w
beauty,perfection

Biconsonantals

Aw
jn
wA

HD

nw

km

ns

tA

pH

mr

Sn

nH

mj
mw

ms

Dr

Triconsonantals

anx

dwA

HAt
sxt

74

Exercises

A.TransliteratethefollowingphrasesandtranslatethemintoEnglish.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

LESSON2

B.TranslatethefollowingphrasesfromMiddleEgyptianintoEnglish.Providethetransliteration.

1.anothermaninthehouse

2.afingeroratongue

3.thehusbandofthesecondwifesmother

4.aboatontheriver

5.broadlips

6.thehairofHathor

7.fromanothershore

8.eitherthesunorthemoon

9.thenoseofKhnum

10.thestarsinthesky

76

HIEROGLYPHICEGYPTIAN

FurtherReading

J.Baines.VisualandWrittenCultureinAncientEgypt.Oxford,2007.
.Scripts,HighCulture,andAdministrationinMiddleKingdomEgypt,inS.Houston(ed.),TheShape
ofScript.SantaFe,2012:2563.
N.Beaux,etal.Imageetconceptiondumondedanslescrituresfiguratives.Paris,2009.
J.Buurman,etal.InventairedesSigneshiroglyphiques.Paris,1988.
W.FormanandS.Quirke.HieroglyphsandtheAfterlifeinAncientEgypt.London,1996.
E.Hornung.IdeaintoImage,trans.E.Bredeck.NewYork,1992.
B.Kemp.100Hieroglyphs:ThinkLikeanEgyptian.NewYork,2005.
B.Petty.EgyptianGlyphary.Littleton,2012.
D.Kurth.APtolemaicSignList.Htzel,2010.
J.F.Quack.DifficultHieroglyphsandUnreadableDemotic?HowtheAncientEgyptiansDealtwiththe
Complexities of Their Script, in A. Voogt and I. Finkel (eds), The Idea of Writing: Play and
Complexity.Leiden,2010:235251.
S.Sauneron.LcriturefigurativedanslestextesdEsna.Cairo,1982.
R.H.Wilkinson.ReadingEgyptianArt.London,1994

77

LESSON2

MentuhotepII
FounderoftheMiddleKingdom
20602010BCE
78