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How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Teach Yourself Hardcover – August 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0520215979 ISBN-10: 0520215974 Edition: First Printing
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

You need no previous experience reading hieroglyphs to benefit from this book. This is a hieroglyphs guide for the layperson, tourist, or museum enthusiast who'd like to have more of a clue when it comes to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs. Focusing on the funerary symbols one would be likely to see in Egypt or at a museum, and illustrated with hieroglyphs that are on display in the British Museum (drawn by Richard Parkinson, curator in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum), How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs makes possible a deeper appreciation not just of museum displays but of the Egyptian culture that used this writing system.

Both experts in Egyptology (Collier teaches Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, and Manley teaches the subject at the University of Glasgow), they explain how most hieroglyphs are used to convey the sound of the ancient Egyptian language, then go on to teach, in easily digestible segments, the basic phonograms (sound-signs) used in inscriptions a traveler or museum-goer would be most likely to encounter. Each chapter teaches a new portion of hieroglyphic script and a new aspect of the Middle Egyptian grammar, with a section to practice the new reading skills and exercises to solidify the lessons taught. It provides a wonderful opportunity to sit at home and learn about the pharaonic administration, ancient Egyptian family life, and the Egyptian way of death, while building a firm understanding of the most common features of hieroglyphs. --Stephanie Gold

From Library Journal

Collier (Egyptology, Univ. of Liverpool) and Manley (Egyptology, Univ. of Glasgow) have produced a succinct and usable introduction to reading Egyptian hieroglyphics and basic Middle Egyptian grammar. From the very first chapter, the reader translates actual inscriptions from monuments using exercises and a key. Inasmuch as Egyptian hieroglyphics form a phonetic writing system, some knowledge of grammar and vocabulary is required to decipher texts. Collier and Manley's volume provides this base along with a classified list of all hieroglyphic signs used in the book and the standard transliteration system used by scholars of Egyptian philology, making it clearly preferable to Christian Jacq's Fascinating Hieroglyphics (Sterling, 1997), which features neither. Reference collections desiring more complete coverage will want Alan Gardiner's Egyptian Grammar (1957. 3d ed.) despite some obsolescence in the treatment of the verbal system; and R.O. Faulkner's Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (1962), supplemented by David Shennum's English-Egyptian Index of Faulkner's Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (1977), is essential for vocabulary. The current title is recommended for most reference collections, and a circulating copy is advisable for patrons who might want to undertake the study of the Egyptian language.?Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Sys., Ft. Pierce, FL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Printing edition (August 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520215974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520215979
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,304,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 105 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book fills the gaping hole between the large reference grammars such as Gardiner's, the popular introductions that don't really teach any of the language, and the out-of-date material by Budge.
Written at the British Museum, this is a textbook for learning to read hieroglyphs such as you find on the walls of a museum. It is not a complete grammar and won't teach you how to read complex literture, but will give you a complete enough command of the language to read most common material.
The book is well-printed and nicely bound, and is small enough to take to the museum with you! It contains a wealth of material, a glossary, king lists, and information about Egyptian gods.
Many of the exercises are drawings or pictures of wall paintings or carvings, making the book fun to use. Answers to exercises are given at the back.
If you don't know which hieroglyphic book to pick, this is the one!
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156 of 161 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Well, what title should I give for a book on Egyptian hieroglyphs?
Actually, the information blurb from the Library Journal linked to the book's entry here states: 'Reference collections desiring more complete coverage will want Alan Gardiner's Egyptian Grammar (1957. 3d ed.) despite some obsolescence in the treatment of the verbal system.'
I actually learned hieroglyphs using that text at the University of London in the 1980s. But I have assembled a collection of more accessible books on how to learn hieroglyphs as refreshers and for sharing. I have four texts, and this was the first of the lot.
If you are truly interested in learning Egyptian hieroglyphs for an upcoming trip to Egypt or to visit a museum with a collection (I amazed a friend once by being able to read an inscription at the museum; I confessed that of the hundreds of 'paragraphs' of hieroglyphs in the collection, that that was one of only two I could decipher without my notebook), Collier and Manley's 'How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs' is a good choice for learning.
It begins with a basic description of the way in which hieroglyphs are used (some signs are words, but actually very few, and others are sound-meaning symbols). Collier and Manley introduce a transliteration system to ease your way into pronunciation (and pronunciation is very sketchy, given the fact there are no recordings from ancient Egypt). Symbols can vary occasionally for sound, meaning, and determinative value.
The pattern of hieroglyphs is also variable. Generally, you always want to 'read into the face', i.e., the picto-glyphs will be facing the direction from which to start -- more often right to left than left to right, and columns go top to bottom.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Heath Buckmaster VINE VOICE on August 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book to give the reader an introduction to studying or learning the ancient egyptian heiros. The book goes into a lot of detail about transliteration, and making the images turn into sounds. It does a good job explaining that the words are more about sounds than actual individual meanings. I found it a bit difficult to follow all the transliteration of sounds, and had to keep referring back to the charts to remember meaning (especially when you start using all the tick marks, and letter combinations). Otherwise, for those who are studying to be egyptologists, or really want to know how words may have been pronounced, this is an excellent start.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 8, 1998
Format: Hardcover
So far it is the best introduction to reading Middle Egyptian I have seen. It is ideal for studying at home in your own pace and in your own time and, maybe the most important feature, all by yourself.
The examples are actual writings taken from stelae from the British Museum, so you learn the real stuff, no messing around with artificial examples.
It is not an exhaustive and in depth course for the Middle Egytian language, but is the best way to get you started. I recommend it to every one who is interested in Middle Egytian, but does not know where to start.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is THE book to start with. The book is so well-written and contains so many interesting genuine texts from stelae that the novice reader remains enthousiastic, and will continue to read through the more difficult parts. A very interesting aspect is 'human interest' the use of stelae from 'lower' people than kings: you get a glimpse of a man, his wife, his children, his servants, his position in society, what they thought to be important... Ok, the book is a bit limited in that it only deals with certain types of texts (Middle-Eg. stelae, offering formulae...), but be sure that, after reading, your next visit to a museum or Egypt will be very special: you can read!! A great experience. Thanks to the momentum gained from this book, you can now read the second monumental book on ancient Egyptian: James P. Allen's "Middle-Egyptian". A bit tougher, though, but complete.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jessica G. on December 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After searching and searching for a good book on this subject, I happened upon this one. All the others taught you the occasional word, but mostly involved Egyptian history and traditions. This book was really about teaching you hieroglyphics.

It first must be stated that Egyptian is tough. There are no vowels. One hieroglyph can mean a zillion things. A ton of hieroglyphs can mean the same exact thing. Its tough. If you are bad at learning languages, walk away now.

That being said, if you're still interested in learning this language, this is the book to get. Its written in a workbook format, complete with exercises and a dictionary. I can't tell you exactly how accurate it is, although I'm sure it is, but I'll update when I actually take a class on this. In the meantime, this book is very thorough, starting with the basics and working its way to more involved deciphering.

This is a must for any blossoming Egyptologist, especially since its tough to find a class on this (heck, its hard enough finding a school for archaeology). Its not bad for bragging rights either, so if you feel like learning a dead language to show it off, you might enjoy this as well.
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