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Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt Hardcover – October 28, 1996

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian

From the Back Cover

This complete handbook reveals the secrets of the hieroglyphic writing of the Nile Valley, which provides a still-vivid snapshot of the gods, the people, and the everyday life of the Ancient Egyptians. Both literal and highly lyrical, hieroglyphics bring alive a distant world, with descriptions of the natural environment, the art, the society, the religious beliefs, and even the philosophical basis of a culture that flourished 5,000 years ago. Presenting and explaining almost 600 of the figures used in the classic phase of Egypt's "sacred writing", this fascinating volume traces the origins and the meaning of each sign, as well as its graphic stylization. An opening essay reveals the secrets of the hieroglyphic system, including its development and its structural characteristics, and emphasizes the sacred, evocative, even magical power of the form, which - unlike our own abstract alphabet - is immediate and expressive. Concluding the book are a complete glossary, a bibliography, and an index, designed to make this book invaluable to the casual reader as well as the student and specialist.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press; 1st ed edition (October 28, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789202328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789202321
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,036,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am torn regarding this book. While it is an exellent study of the individual signs, covering several stages in the evolution of the particular glyph in hieroglyph, hieratic, and demotic characters, it lacks grammer and even word structure aside from a fraction of a page in the introduction. If you are a student of hieroglyphics in the history of the Egyptian culture this could be a most useful book. It is also entertaining and informative to the casual reader, but a student of Egyptian grammer would do better to look elsewhere. Perhaps to Gardiner's "Egyptian Grammar." Betro's book is not, in my opinion, the "complete handbook" it claims to be.
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By A Customer on August 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a very interesting book if you are interested in the background and history of each individual hieroglyphic sign. It's a great supplement to introductory books about the ancient Egyptian language - most books only arrange the signs into families or types and don't tell you much about individual signs. If other books about hieroglyphs leave you hungry for more, then this may be the book for you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a book that you get to learn to read hieroglyphics. This is a book about WHY individual hieroglyphics mean what they mean. It will show you a hieroglyphic, explain what it means, show examples of more modernized and simplified versions... and then it tells you the whys. Example: There is a hieroglyph that, in my mind, I called the "Greek Key design thingy". It means a country shelter. I had no idea how anyone could make a Greek Key design thingy mean country shelter until they explained that it is literally looking down on the floor plan. There would be an open area for congregating (like a front porch) and the closed off area (inside the key) was a private area (for women to visit and for sleeping). These were the simple designs of country shelters. So now I can see HOW they got the design and I know more about the culture of the time. When I see it written on a wall at a museum, I can say with pride and confidence, "This is a country shelter. I had no idea what they are saying about it or doing with it, but I know that somehow a country shelter is involved in the conversation." It also helps you to appreciate the skill and commitment of the ancient scribes. We are such a media centered society that we fail to understand that, long ago, the act of writing something down was very important. Only people trained in this art could do this and I can only imagine the years it took to master the skill. I also noticed that there are similarities to other pictorial languages. The hieroglyph from "mountain" is so similar to the Chinese character that I automatically translated "mountain" before I saw the translation. The two characters are not identical but they are very close.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This book, while not covering the actual text of the language, covers a very important component of Middle Egyptian: The Determinatives. A lot of words in Middle Egyptian were spelled the same, and the only thing that told them apart was the picture that said what they were. This was also important for showing if something was a statement or a proper name. Very good addition to any hieroglyph book collection!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
for a beginner this book at first was quite daunting but on the second reading got to understand it better the book is exalent.
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Format: Hardcover
Maria Carmela Betro's Hieroglyphics provides a handbook to the hieroglyphic writing of the Nile Valley, using an organization by symbol to lend to a dictionary of history and explanation. An amazing guide to a written language that blends phonic symbols with pictograms.
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