Sacred Signs - Hieroglyphs in Ancient Egypt: A Very Short Introduction

Sacred Signs - Hieroglyphs in Ancient Egypt: A Very Short Introduction

Hardback

By (author) Penelope Wilson

List price $31.51

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 144 pages
  • Dimensions: 136mm x 198mm x 18mm | 322g
  • Publication date: 1 August 2003
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0192802992
  • ISBN 13: 9780192802996
  • Illustrations note: 17 line and halftone

Product description

heiroglyphs were far more than a language. They were an omnipresent and all powerful force in communicating the messages of ancient Egyptian culture for over three thousand years; used as monumental art, as a means of identifying Egyptianess, and for rarified communication with the gods. In this exciting new study, Penelope Wilson explores the cultural significance of the script with an emphasis on previously neglected areas such as cryptography, the continuing decipherment post-Champollion, and the powerful fascination hieroglyphs still hold for us today.

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Author information

Penelope Wilson is Lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Durham, and Field Director for the Egyptian Exploration Society Mission to Sais in Egypt. She worked as Assistant Keeper in the Department of Antiquities in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, for seven years.

Editorial reviews

The cracking of the hieroglyphic code by Jean-Francois Champollion in 1824 solved one of the world's most enduring mysteries. It was as if the ancient Egyptians were suddenly able to speak to us across a gulf of centuries. Through hieroglyphics we could at last know what sort of people those long-ago Egyptians were, what they believed in, how they viewed their friends and enemies. Thanks to the Rosetta Stone, which set Champollion on his way, all sorts of absurd conjectures about the Egyptians were laid to rest overnight. Egyptologist and hieroglyphics expert Penelope Wilson has set about putting us in the picture in every sense. As she says, hieroglyphics contain the secrets of ages and even today we still have much to learn from them. Early visitors to Egypt thought the pictorial writings were merely items of graffiti, or the doodlings of artists. Now we recognize hieroglyphs not just as a form of language but as something unusual even in their own time. Ordinary Egyptians - even educated ones - could not read hieroglyphs. This was a language reserved by the priests for communicating to their gods. Through these elaborate symbols they expressed hopes and fears, sought favours and tried to curry favour with deities who they believed controlled all aspects of life. Wilson illustrates her text lavishly with examples of hieroglyphs, but this is not a 'how to read' book. Rather, it explains the cultural significance of the coded language and how hieroglyphs were meant to be read in many ways - a strange concept to grasp for those of us accustomed to modern forms of the written word. The book is aimed not at scholars but at the ordinary person with an interest in ancient Egypt and archaeology. Easy to understand and assimilate, it is a superb introduction to a fascinating topic. (Kirkus UK)

Table of contents

1. The origins of writing in Egypt; 2. Hieroglyphic script and the Egyptian language; 3. Hieroglyphs and art; 4. 'I Know You, I Know Your Names'; 5. Scribes and everyday writing; 6. The decipherment of Egyptian; 7. Hieroglyphs in the modern world; Notes; Chronology; Further Reading; Index