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Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs




HIEROGLYPHS are the word pictures that represent the sounds of the Ancient Egyptian language.

There are two basic types of hieroglyphs: IDEOGRAMS and PHONOGRAMS. Often the same image can be both an ideogram and a phonogram.

IDEOGRAMS are images that depict the object they represent. For example the image of a mouth can represent the word 'mouth'.

PHONOGRAMS are images that represent the sounds of the Ancient Egyptian language, just like our alphabet represents the sound of our language. For example, the image of a mouth can also represent the sound 'R'.


Hieroglyphic Alphabet

Our simplified Hieroglyphic Alphabet which you can find at the bottom of each page is designed for fun to let you translate English words into Hieroglyphs.

Before you translate your words into hieroglyphs, break them down into their basic sounds of their syllables. For example, the word hieroglyph itself has ten letters but only eight sounds: h-i-r-o-g-l-y-f. Therefore, you would only need eight hieroglyphs to represent it.

Treat all double letters as single sounds. That should help you cut back on the number of hieroglyphs you need to use.

Sometimes the same hieroglyph is used to represent different letters. If that happens, change the color of the hieroglyphs to avoid confusion.

Arrange your hieroglyphs to create interesting designs rather than the straight lines that we use to arrange our letters and sentences.

View our Cartouche Lesson to see an illustrated step by step example of how our Hieroglyphic Alphabet works.

Page Banner Image


Coffin Panel (1070 to 945 BC)

Coffin Panel with funerary scenes (c. 1070 to 945 BC).
© Walters Art Museum



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