15 March 2006

Why hieroglyphs?

In a comment to my last post, Neil said: Maybe you already wrote about it in another post, but I'm curious how you became so interested in reading hieroglyphs.


I have long been fascinated by ancient Egypt. Ruins of all kinds have always appealed to my eye, but the scale, magnitude, and beauty of ancient Egyptian monuments made them #1 for me. When I was growing up, I had an hieroglyphic stamp set. It's still around somewhere, probably in storage with my other stuff. I got a necklace with a cartouche containing the hieroglyphs for my name, but it didn't contain any of the "cool" symbols I was hoping for, so I moved on to a necklace with an ankh pendant I wore throughout high school and into college.

In my reading over the years, I became more familiar with the gods, goddesses and pharoahs, so I can pick some of their sculptures out when I visit museums like the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose. It has the largest Egyptian collection on the West coast and also has a replica of a tomb built within it. It's very cool (if you're me).

A couple months ago, I saw a docu-drama about deciphering the Rosetta Stone which I really enjoyed. I intended to read more about Champollion's decipherment, but instead I discovered a couple of books on hieroglyphs themselves which captured my interest.

Learning hieroglyphs is just the latest element of an ongoing study occurring in fits and starts over years. I read and soak in what I find interesting and don't worry about forgetting details along the way. It's the pleasure of learning without the pressure of homework or exams.

Besides, they're fun to draw.

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  1. For me its sign language!
    "Egyptology" is something I HAD contemplated studying but then the fascination wore off...
    Now its sign language, not as a hoby or anything but I really want to learn it like I did english!
    What do the little bids mean in hieroglyphics?

  2. I am very interested in Egyptology, but I'm not sure it's enough to want to learn to read hieroglyphs. I like to learn enough to understand the history and be able to explain, succinctly yet clearly, what my Eye of Horis tattoo represents.

  3. Whoops... Horus.

  4. I saw that documentary too! And took out the book I bought years ago about the Rosetta stone (when I went to see it at the British museum.

    I can understand your fascination - I was in Egypt when I was 13, and still the magnitude of those buildings... Impressive is just the beginning :)

  5. Fitena: Sign language also interests me, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. As for birds (I'm assuming you meant birds), there are so many different ones used in hieroglyphs that it's a little infuriating. Basically they stand for different consonants or combinations of consonants.

    Kevin: lol. The Eye of Horus is probably my favorite hieroglyph. The way it was used to denote fractions for measuring is pretty cool.

    Scholiast: It's a small world. And I'm envious, I would love to go to Egypt, but I doubt there will be a good time to travel to that region in my lifetime. But you never know...

  6. Thanks. I'm always curious about how a person gets an interest in something which is a little different than the norm. It certainly sounds fascinating.