For those intending to journey to Egypt (one and a half million travelers a year), one piece of "required reading" will be Hieroglyphs for Travelers by Thomas F. Mudloff and Ronald E. Fellows ($14.95; 120 pages; fully illustrated). I recently returned from Egypt where this cargo-pocket-sized volume delivered on its promises and more. Mudloff and Fellows began with the premise that some basic knowledge of hieroglyphic Egyptian is attainable, even for the most harried traveler to Egypt. As someone who has completed both of the Oriental Institutes hieroglyphics courses and labored through Gardiner and Hoch, I was looking for a portable piece capable of filling in some of the blanks for me when I stood face-to-face with temple texts. Clearly I wanted a blend of serious scholarship, context, important textual glosses, a sign list, and formulaic challenges that would stretch my knowledge. All in something that I could stuff into my expedition pants pocket. I knew I could put this volume to the test--and did--from the Giza Plateau to the Temple of Isis at Philae. The book met the test for a host of reasons, not the least of which was the fact I had both historical perspective and linguistic tool in one small volume.
Some highlights (especially for those new to hieroglyphic Egyptian), 1)in three pages, the book provides the most common royal epithets and other useful words and abbreviations, 2)illustrations and hieroglyphs of the major deities, and 3)interesting variation in the choices of sample translations and exercises. Plus, unlike Gardiner, Mudloff and Fellows provide translations/keys to the exercises. I have to conclude that the authors chose texts and exercises with the purpose of teaching or expanding vocabulary as one visited more and more monuments. Hieroglyphs for Travelers is concise, informative, amusing, and an excellent replacement for weighty tomes. -- William F. Vartorella, Ph.D.
Text: English (translation)