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Working with Hieroglyphs I: Ideographic Hieroglyphs

Working with Hieroglyphs I: the Alphabet and Basic Nouns

Now that we are beginning to understand how hieroglyphs work, I’ll introduce another use of hieroglyphs: ideograms (where hieroglyphs represent the object that they depict). I’ll use the coffin of Userhat, a soldier like Sa-Djehuty, which is in the University of Liverpool’s Garstang Museum of Archaeology. I’d like you to concentrate on the provisions that Userhat expects to be offered to him, in order that he continue to live in the afterlife. In the video, I start you off by showing you how to read ‘bread’ and ‘beer’, but what do you think these following symbols taken from the coffin are? And what will they be used for in the next life?

You’ll probably be able to guess the more obvious pictures, but you might need guidance with the other two. Happily, help is at hand in the form this website, which breaks the offering formula down into its component parts.

Incidentally you may notice a difference in the script of the video and my commentary in relation to one of the epithets of Osiris. Can you find where this is? It’s not a mistake as such, so why can I translate this epithet in two different ways?

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Superpowers of the Ancient World: the Near East

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