Author: EH Team

Ancient Egyptian Birds in Hieroglyphs

Hieroglyph showing the Sacred Ibis

Most hieroglyphs are based on things that the ancient Egyptians saw around them. Hands, feet, boats and animals all feature in a big way. One of the most popular themes was the birds of Egypt, which played an important part in the culture.

The sacred Ibis

The sacred Ibis

Birds were viewed as important or powerful for various reasons – not least that being able to fly they were in many ways, out of the reach of humans. Many of the gods were depicted with bird heads. Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom or knowledge was always depicted as having the head of an Ibis. The

Ancient Egyptians believed that the soul (the ‘ba’) was able to leave the body during death and would one day return – the process of resurrection. In many inscriptions, the ba is depicted as a bird.

Along the Nile, some of the multitude of bird-life included the falcon, kite, goose, crane, heron, plover, pigeon, ibis, vulture and owl. Many of these birds were, in fact, kept in sacred flocks by the ancient Egyptians and some individual birds were even elevated to temple animals.

We know that birds were often mummified, usually for Egyptian citizens to present as offerings to the gods. Many of these bird mummies were provided with the same provisions in death as would have been afforded a human mummy!

A mummified bird

A mummified bird

Given the above, it’s not surprising that birds feature heavily in the hieroglyphic alphabet – unfortunately it’s hard to put a name to many of the birds at first glance, so in this post we’ve matched each hieroglyph up with its bird species it actually represents. See how many you can guess!


Hieroglyph Species Sound
󳮮 Vulture A
𓅀 Double Vulture AA
󳰎 Quail chick U or w
𓅳 Double Quail chick Uu or ww
󳯑 Owl M
𓅔 Double owl MM
𓅮 Pintail Duck flying pA
𓅜 Crested Ibis Ax
𓅯 Pintail Duck alighting (taking off) xn
𓅬 White fronted – Goose gb
𓅠 Black Ibis gm
𓅧 Cormorant aq
𓅭 Pintail Duck zA
𓅷 Duckling TA
𓅘 Sennar Guine-fowl nH
𓅨 Swallow wr
𓅙 Hoopoe db
𓅡 Jabiru bA
𓅰 Fattened duck wSA
𓅪 Sparrow nDS
𓅶 Quail chick with U1 mAw
𓅐 Vulture mwt
𓅂 Falcon tyw
𓅚 Lapwing rxyt
𓅟 Flamingo dSr
𓅤 Crested ibis on perch baHi



We couldn’t finish an article about Egyptian bird hieroglyphics without mentioning what is arguably the cutest hieroglyph known to have existed:


The “three ducklings in a nest” Hieroglyph is thought simply to have been an ideogram for the word nest.

Ancient Egyptian Valentines

love in ancient egypt

With valentines day coming up, you might be looking for a really unique (but affordable!) way to impress someone. Here are some different ideas inspired by ancient Egypt which you can make or buy today! We absolutely guarantee your valentine will not have received any of these before!

Click to download free cheat sheet!


Write your partners’ name in hieroglyphs

Difficulty: Super easy

Instructions: Use our translator to transliterate your partner’s name – write this on an envelope, gift tag or in your card to make an ordinary item much more interesting!

Egyptian pharaohs wrote their names in a cartouche – you might want to do this too – learn more here!


Make a Hieroglyphic card

Difficulty: Quite easy

Instructions: Instead of just writing the name, you could make or write your entire card in hieroglyphs! Not much good at drawing? Print this page, and trace the hieroglyphs from below.

Here’s some useful words you might want to use :

English Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic
Beer hket
Beautiful / Happy Nefer
Eternity / Forever Djet
Body khet
exist kheper
face her
I, Me wi   i,me_hieroglyph
You (masculine) tchu you(m)_hieroglyph
You (feminine) tchen you(f)_hieroglyph
We, us n we,us_hieroglyph
Love merwt love_hieroglyph
Love (verb) mer love_verb_hieroglyph
Wine Irep


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Make a papyrus!

Difficulty: Medium

Instructions: first get yourself some papyrus (cheap links below – yes, its genuine papyrus!) We absolutely guarantee your valentine will have never received a papyrus!

With papyrus in hand, you could either write a message or (if you’re feeling creative) why not go for an Egyptian style artwork? Many original papyri have colorful drawings with hieroglyphs used for names or important messages, which make clear the events shown in the picture. The pictures will give you some ideas for style an layout! It was common to show the couple seated, perhaps enjoying an activity or family time, with brief messages or names in hieroglyphs worked into the image.

Egyptian Art showing figures hand in hand

Egyptian Art showing figures hand in hand



A couple playing senet

A couple playing the popular game, senet










Pharaoh Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhesenamun

Pharaoh Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhesenamun

Papyrus showing couple seated together

Papyrus showing couple seated together



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How about some Historical (but affordable) Jewelry?

The ancient Egyptians certainly appreciated the finer things in life – jewelry was as for them then as it is for us today! For the rich, there was gold, silver and precious stones – Some of the more prized and favored stones were lapis lazuli, turquoise, garnet, carnelian, obsidian and rock crystal. Ordinary people went for imitation stones and copper based items. A popular material, faience, was made of ground quartz mixed with a colorant that was heated and molded to imitate more expensive natural stones.

Popular among all classes were amulets, which were often incorporated into Egyptian jewelry or worn as independent pieces. Amulets are charms or talismans believed to either protect the wearer or infuse him or her with power, protection, luck and so on. Egyptian amulets were carved into various forms and shapes, such as animals, humans, gods and symbols. The amulets were equally important protectors of the living as they were armor of the dead.


The Scarab

The scarab beetle was a universal sign of good luck – it was belied to convey courage and the protection of the gods. Giving small scarab beetles, often made of faience were frequently given as gifts. Some were even inscribed with messages or images of deities and given for special occasions, such as a marriage or pregnancy.

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  • Beginning in the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, memorialising scarabs became common.

  • They were often incorporated into tombs, as grave goods, or given as gifts.

  • The Scarab was sacred to all Egyptian Sun Gods, the scarab amulet provided the wearer with both the protection of the sun and its' creative life-force.

  • Size 30 x 20mm / 1 1/4" x 1"

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The Ankh

The ankh symbolised life – the ankh, when used as a hieroglyph literally meant “life”.  The popularity of the ankh in ancient Egyptian life is evident in the numerous and varied types of everyday objects which were shaped in the form of the ankh. In Tutankhamun’s tomb, a gilded mirror case was found in the shape of the ankh, many of the gods were pictured holding and ankh and they were certainly popular gifts to give!

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  • The Ankh is probably the most well known ancient Egyptian amulet and is found in many tombs and sarcophagi and illuminations.

  • This Ankh amulet is beautifully detailed and finished in gold and silver, set with a lovely blue crystal.

  • Jewels of Atum-Ra

  • Jewellery

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Bast, the cat goddess was associated with health, happiness and love. Cats were highly respected in ancient egypt – not least because they were incredibly useful for controlling mice, rats and even snakes! Because domestic cats tend to be tender and protective of their offspring, Bastet was also regarded as a good mother, and she was sometimes depicted with numerous kittens. Consequently, a woman who wanted children sometimes wore an amulet showing the goddess with kittens, the number of which indicated her own desired number of children.

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  • Figures of cats were offered to the sun goddess Bast at her temple at Bubastis to receive her blessings as mistress of music, dance, pleasure and love.

  • Jewels of Atum-Ra

  • Jewellery

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Something a little more modern?

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  • Genuine Swarovski crystals add more sparkle and elegance to the already luxurious charms on this bracelet

  • Vibrant enamel inlays recall the colourful splendour of the Pharaonic Age and bring each charm to life in a burst of colour

  • Bracelet is adjustable up to 9.055 inches (23 cm) in length

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Beer and Wine!

Difficulty: Painting and decorating, medium – drinking, very easy.

The ancient Egyptians were HUGE beer and wine fans – they got through loads of the stuff, so that there were even festivals entirely devoted to getting so drunk one

Example of an amphora

Example of a decorated amphora

passed out… The ancient Egyptians made and consumed red and white wine (irep) Throughout Egypt there are many tomb paintings illustrating the gathering and pressing of grapes and making them into wine.

The Egyptians usually stored and served their wine from vessels known as Amphorae.  Amphorae vessels were frequently inscribed on the shoulder or have stamps or mud seals. Often the inscription would have the King’s name, the particular variety of wine, its vineyard, the vintner and the and the wine’s owner. For a unique gift you can buy and decorate you own Amphora!

Popular scenes involved couples drinking, armies heading off to war or animal motifs – but you can add anything you like – find the hieroglyphs for beer and wine in the table above.


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How about some alternative flowers?

While many people today think of Egypt primarily as a dry, its important to remember that the vast majority of Egyptian settlements in antiquity (As today) are located along the Nile river, in a band of rich soil and diverse flora and fauna. The Egyptians were, in fact, big flower givers, using them for all the same occasions as today, birthdays, weddings, funerals, and as a token of love an affection.  This year, why not skip the roses, and go for something with an interesting back-story?  At festivals, women frequently adorned their hair with lotus flowers and on some special occasions, men did as well.

Water Lillies

Hows that for different? For the Egyptians, water lillies had particular significance – they open in the morning and close again at night. This was probably the reason that the ancient Egyptians saw in them an image of rebirth and regeneration, important concepts in their religion. It was incredibly popular to give water lillies, with some of the first every bouquets being made of papyrus and lilies!  There was even a yearly “feast of the lotus” – During this feast, every one was supposed to hold a silver pot, shaped like a lotus with a burning candle in its middle. Then, everyone was supposed to head for the Nile, with the pot in his hand and an overwhelming dream in his heart. According to the old myth, it was believed that if the burning candle continued floating on the surface of water, the dream would come true.

Go for a water lilly for something totally different

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Or get the silver pot, and have your own dream ceremony..

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