Write Your Name in Hieroglyphs

Dear readers, I have been working very hard these last few months to come up with a treat (an early holiday present?) for you. Based on your enthusiasm for my previous lessons, I thought you might like to learn how to write your name in hieroglyphs! (Read to the bottom for some FUN HOMEWORK. Really!)

You have to keep in mind that we are using the hieroglyphs to write your name phonetically. This means that we are matching hieroglyphs with the sounds in your name (not the letters). Remember, the Egyptians didn’t normally write vowels–but certain hieroglyphs can stand for vowels.

Also, there are common sounds in the English language that simply do not exist in ancient Egyptian. One example can be found in the names Veronica and Victor. There is no hieroglyph for the sound made by the letter V. In that case you will need to use the closest sound in Egyptian–the sound of the letter F.

Let’s look at an example together. Using the hieroglyphic alphabet chart below, let’s write the name of my favorite Egyptologist, Caroline.

Print hieroglyph key

Looking at the chart, you will notice that there isn’t a letter C. We’re not matching letters, but sounds . . . the first sound in Caroline is a “hard C” that sounds like the letter K. So we’ll use the cup hieroglyph that has the sound K. Next comes the vowel A, which the Egyptians didn’t write. There is a sound found in Arabic (but not in English) that somewhat equates to the sound of the letter A (constricted at the back of the throat), and the corresponding hieroglyph is an outstretched arm. Then we have R, which corresponds to the mouth glyph. Then comes the sound O . . . which we find in hieroglyphs 2,000 years after I died when the Egyptians were trying to spell foreign Greek names like Ptolemy and Cleopatra. The same applies to the L. With the vowel I, there is a corresponding hieroglyph–the reed leaf (you’ve seen this before at the end of my name). Finally, the sound N of the water squiggle hieroglyph. There isn’t an “E” sound in Caroline’s name, so it doesn’t get written (although some people will use the reed leaf hieroglyph for E). And don’t forget to add the determinative that indicates the name is that of a woman!

Caroline’s name would be written like this:

With today’s fun lesson, I’m giving you some homework. FUN HOMEWORK. Write your name in hieroglyphs, take a picture of it, and send it off to fefi@ncartmuseum.org. I’ll take a look at it and try to decipher your name in hieroglyphs. Isn’t this the coolest homework you’ve ever done?

(The hieroglyphs in this blog post are made possible thanks to JSesh, an open source hieroglyphic editor.)

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