Tag: Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics

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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Dempsey Designs Card Making for All Occasions Kit
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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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10 SHEETS EGYPTIAN PAPYRUS PAPER & HIEROGLYPHICS INFO
10 sheets of original PAPYRUS PAPER 330mm X 230mm
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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.

Scarab for Courage and Protection - Amulet Necklace - Jewels of Atum-Ra - Ancient Egypt Collection
  • 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!

Ankh for Health Prosperity and Long Life - Amulet Necklace - Jewels of Atum-Ra - Ancient Egypt Collection - Matching Earrings Available
  • 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

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.

Bast for Love and Happiness - Amulet Necklace - Jewels of Atum-Ra - Ancient Egypt Collection
  • 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?

Ultimate Treasures of Egypt Charm Bracelet by The Bradford Exchange
  • Ancient Egypt-inspired bracelet features 16 handcrafted charms incorporating authentic Egyptian symbolism, including The Eye of Horus, the Face of Nefertiti, and the Winged Isis

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  • 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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Butterme Metallic Marker Pens,Set of 10 Colors for Card Making/DIY Photo Album/Use on Any Surface-paper/Glass/Plastic/Pottery
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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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Top 5 Myths about Hieroglyphs

Hatshepsut, the first female Pharaoh

Almost since the art of writing hieroglyphs was lost myths and rumors about their usage and purpose have been circulating – many of these have only recently been disproved!  Today lets take a look at some of the most common myths about Hieroglyphics.

They’re Pictograms.

Almost since the study of hieroglyphics began there was the assumption that the symbols were pictographic – that is to say, they were pictures of the things they represent. In fact, each hieroglyph has a sound value associated with it just as we have in western languages today.

 

So they’re not Pictograms?

Well, sometimes they are. Hieroglyphs can, in fact, be used as ideograms, phonograms and as determinatives. When used as an ideogram, they represent the thing they show, so in this instance they are pictographic. However, when used as a phonogram, they instead represent a sound – when used as a determinative they instead help to convey the meaning of a preceding word.

While this seems quite confusing, It makes a lot more sense once you start reading!

You can read more about this here.

 

There are only a small number of glyphs

This assumption which was also fairly widespread until the language was fully understood is understandable, given that many hieroglyphic inscription’s use similar symbols. In fact, we now know that there are over 700 individual hieroglyphs.

 

Hieroglyphs belong on temple walls  for spells and prayers.

While the above notion isn’t wrong – we do find a great number of hieroglyphs on temple walls, and they certainly were used for spells and prayers, they were used far more widely than that! We find evidence of hieroglyphs being used to record all sorts of information, from military records to tax receipts and even to tell personal stories.

Hieroglyphs, and their shorthand version hieratic script were also frequently written on papyrus sheets, which were far easier to transport than stone tablets! Glyphs also decorate many pieces of ancient Egyptian art, some pottery and personal possessions.

 

All Egyptians could read hieroglyphs

While this is a pleasant notion, it’s likely that only a few well educated individuals could read and write hieroglyphs. Like most ancient civilisations, the majority of ancient Egypt’s citizens were probably illiterate. However, they could follow along with important stories and teachings via the colorful wall paintings and sculptures which depicted so many of the key events from Egyptian history.

That being said, most people could probably have understood at least some of the glyphs, since their meaning is very clear when used pictographically.

Most of the writing and reading of hieroglyphs was done either by the priesthood, or by overseers and professional scribes. While this isn’t the level of literacy we expect today, it was still a vast improvement on societies who depended purely on word of mouth and storytelling to record their history.

What color were Hieroglyphics?

Color in the tomb of Horemheb

Color was very important in Ancient Egypt. Looking at the intricate carvings which the left us today, its easy to forget that the images would have originally been brightly coloured. Color was considered an integral part of an item’s or person’s nature in Ancient Egypt, similarly items with a similar color were believed to have similar properties.

Ancient Egyptian temple in color

Ancient Egyptian temple in re-created color

Since the Egyptians valued precision in their art, purity of color was very important – painting each was usually the job of one individual, at the least would be done in phases. The artists would usually complete everything in one color before moving on to the next. Paintings would be finished off with fine brushwork to outline the work and add limited interior detail.

The degree to which Ancient Egyptian artists and craftsmen mixed colors varied throughout their history. However, even at its most creative, color mixing was not widely spread – firstly, this process was not particularly easy, and secondly Egyptians liked their art to remain constant, creativity was much less important than order. The colours available to the Egyptian artists depended on what was able to made from the resources available in nature – there were no artificial pigments.  This is actually quite helpful to us as historians, since it allows us to know which colours were used!

 

Black

Black (Egyptian name “kem”) was the color of the silt left by the Nile inundation, which gave rise to the Ancient Egyptian name for the country: “kemet”– the black land.

Unlike today, in Egyptian art black usually symbolized fertility, new life and resurrection, it was also the color of Osiris, the resurrected god of the dead and of the Nile, and was considered the color of the underworld where the sun was said to regenerate every night. Black was often used on statues and coffins to invoke the process of regeneration ascribed to the god Osiris.

 

Green

Green was also an important color associated with fresh growth, vegetation, new life and resurrection (the latter along with the color black, due to the varying colours of the nile). The hieroglyph for green is a papyrus stem and frond.

Green was also the color often used for the “Eye of Horus,” which had healing and protective powers, and so the color also represented well-being. To do “green things” was to do behave in a positive, life-affirming manner.

 

White

White was the color of purity, sacredness and cleanliness. Tools, sacred objects and even priest’s sandals were white for this reason. Sacred animals were also depicted as white. Clothing, was usually depicted as white, although in reality it was probably more of a natural undyed color.

 

Silver

Silver represented the color of the sun at dawn, and the moon, and stars. Silver was actually a rarer metal than gold in Ancient Egypt and held a greater value. A mix of gold a silver known as electron was used to coat the very tips of the pyramids, so they gleamed as the sun shone on them.

 

Blue

Blue was the colour of the heavens, as well as the colour of water – even though the water of the Nile would frequently turn black then green during the inundation. Egyptians preferred imported blue stones for use in jewellery, but evidence suggests that technology was advanced enough to produce the world’s first semi-synthetic pigment, known since medieval times as Egyptian blue. Depending on the degree to which the pigment Egyptian blue was ground, the color could vary from a rich, dark blue to a very light, sky blue.

 

Turquoise

Turquoise, a particularly valued imported green-blue stone from the Sinai desert, also represented joy, as well as the color of the sun’s rays at dawn. Through the god Hathor, who controlled the destiny of new-born babies, and protected mothers, it is often considered a color of promise and foretelling.

 

Yellow

Yellow was usually the colour used to depict women’s skin, as well as the skin of the peoples who lived near the Mediterranean – Libyans, Bedouin, Syrians and Hittites. Incidentally, men were usually represented in a red or lighter brown color. Yellow was also the color of the sun and, along with gold, could represent perfection.

 

Gold

Gold represented the flesh of the gods and was used for anything which was considered eternal or indestructible. (Gold was used on a sarcophagus, for example.) Whilst gold leaf could be used on sculpture, yellow or reddish-yellows were used in paintings for the skin of gods.

 

Red

Red was primarily the color of chaos and disorder – the color of the desert which was considered the opposite of the fertile black land surrounding the Nile. One of the principal red pigments, red ochre, was obtained from the desert. Red was also the color of destructive fire and fury and was used to represent something dangerous.

While red was the most potent of all colors in Ancient Egypt, it was also a color of life and protection – derived from the color of blood

Color in the tomb of Horemheb

Color in the tomb of Horemheb

and the life-supporting power of fire. It was therefore commonly used for protective amulets.

 

Hieroglyphics could be coloured in a variety of colours for carvings and paintings, this may have been associated with the content of the message itself. Hieroglyphs themselves were often simply outlined in black or white, however when coupled with a depiction of a scene.

When writing on papyrus, hieroglyphs were always in back, or red.

 

How hard is learning Hieroglyphics? (Not very!)

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs

When you’re first getting interested in Ancient Egypt, it’s pretty normal to consider learning hieroglyphs – most people quickly decide that it’s too hard, but in many ways this isn’t true!

Firstly, lets quickly mention that ‘learning’ how to read hieroglyphic script means something different to everyone. Some people aspire to visit a museum and understand what a few of those strange Egyptian symbols mean, others plan on taking a trip to Egypt and want to know the basics to help them better enjoy the trip (and this is a really good idea!). At the far end of the scale, there are budding archaeologists and historians who want to eventually be able to read and write hieroglyphs fluently.

One of the real joys of hieroglyphs is that whatever your level of intention, learning some can be as simple or complicated as you like! Start by checking out the resources on this website – once you’ve got the hang of the basics, try picking up a book from the recommended list, or perhaps buy some papyrus and set about creating some historically accurate artwork!  If you want to take it further, we recommend some excellent courses on this site which can make you a real expert.

That being said, we think that learning hieroglyphics is really quite easy! Let’s see why:

You don’t need to speak them!

While you certainly can use the hieroglyphs and their associated Egyptian words to speak to a friend or write secret messages if you so wish, there’s really no need to learn how to ‘speak’ them. Middle Egyptian (for form of Egyptian which we generally study, since its applicable to the widest possible historical time frame) is a dead language – so no speaking exercises necessary!  To get the most out of your study, you can focus on reading – Mummies don’t talk!

 

You don’t conjugate verbs

In middle Egyptian there’s no need to conjugate verbs. If you’ve ever studied a language, you’ll understand how much time this will save you in learning!

 

You don’t need to be a linguist

If you’ve never studied a language before, starting with hieroglyphics actually makes a lot of sense! By learning to read hieroglyphs, you will be learning all of the key skills need for language learning more generally, however, you will be doing this with a set of symbols which are abstract and somewhat distant from your everyday life.

This actually makes it easier for most people to assimilate new language – especially when considering a language with an unfamiliar alphabet. If you ever planned on learning Russian or Chinese, learn some hieroglyphs first!

 

Masculine and feminine nouns…

Are also incredibly easy – with only a few exceptions, all feminine nouns have a ‘t’ at the end.

Again, if you’ve learning a language before, you’ll appreciate this one!

 

 A little makes a big difference

Finally, it’s really hard to stress just how big an impact learning only the very basics of hieroglyphics can have in terms of your understanding end enjoyment of ancient Egypt. The feeling of being able to look at an artifact in a museum, a temple on the Nile – or even just a picture on the internet, and have even a rough idea of what sound some of the hieroglyphs represent as a truly exciting and engaging one!