Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs
Dr. Bob Brier is an Egyptologist and Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. He earned his bachelor's degree from Hunter College and Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professor Brier has twice been selected as a Fulbright Scholar and has received Long Island University's David Newton Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of his achievements as a lecturer. He has served as Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities' Egyptology Today program. In 1994, Dr. Brier became the first person in 2,000 years to mummify a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian style. This research was the subject of a National Geographic television special, Mr. Mummy. Dr. Brier is also the host of The Learning Channel's series The Great Egyptians. Professor Brier is the author of Ancient Egyptian Magic (1980), Egyptian Mummies (1994), Encyclopedia of Mummies (1998), The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story (1998), Daily Life in Ancient Egypt (1999), and numerous scholarly articles.
01: Why Egypt Needed Hieroglyphs
Before learning how to read and write hieroglyphs, you have to understand why ancient Egypt had to invent some form of writing. Central to this introductory lecture is a study of the Narmer Palette, whose writing would set standards and conventions that would be followed for 3,000 years.
02: The Ancient Egyptian Alphabet
It's time to learn the hieroglyphic alphabet. Professor Brier shows you how to write each hieroglyph and how to position them, including a stylized hand ("D"), a horned viper ("F"), and two hieroglyphs for which English doesn't have a letter. Then, transcribe your name from English to ancient Egyptian.
03: How a Language Becomes Lost
How is it possible for a language used by the world's greatest civilization to become lost? The answer, you'll learn, involves charting the rise and fall of ancient Egypt's spectacular kingdoms, as well as investigating the ways Christianity replaced hieroglyphs with Greek letters.
04: Napoleon in Egypt
Explore how hieroglyphs, and the ability to read them, was rediscovered during Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Along the way, you'll consider the birth of Egyptology and the role of ushabtis, statues of servants buried with prominent Egyptians so they could avoid having to work in the next world.
05: Early Attempts to Decipher the Rosetta Stone
With the discovery of the Rosetta Stone by the French, the process of deciphering hieroglyphs could begin. But early attempts were thrown off by what Professor Brier calls the "Big Mistake". Here, examine the reasons why so many scholars made the error of treating hieroglyphs like picture writing.
06: William Bankes and the Keys to Decipherment
Learn how several key discoveries showed how to decipher hieroglyphs the right way, and also shaped our understanding of ancient Egypt. First: a bilingual obelisk that extended the Egyptian alphabet. Second: the "Hall of Ancients", which contained the longest list of pharaohs ever discovered.
07: Jean-François Champollion Cracks the Code
Meet Jean- François Champollion, the first man in 2,000 years to read hieroglyphs and correct the "Big Mistake". After studying Champollion's vital contribution to the field, you'll spend time learning how to read and write biliterals: hieroglyphs that represent two sounds, one after the other.CHECK THIS RECORD
08: Suffix Pronouns and the Hieroglyphs of Ptah
In the first half of this lecture, learn how to work with suffix pronouns (which, unlike in English, are the same for possessive and nominative). Then, discover what hieroglyphs reveal about the role of the creator god Ptah in Egyptian religion-and his close connection with writing and words.CHECK THIS RECORD
09: The Immortal Scribe
First, continue working on suffix pronouns with several English-to-hieroglyph sentence translations. Then, unpack the hidden meaning of the scarab beetle hieroglyph (kheper). Finally, learn about the scribes responsible for writing everything from cattle inventories to Books of the Dead, then learn about the medium on which they wrote, papyrus.
10: Hieroglyphs and the Bible
After giving you a few more pointers on suffix pronouns (including an unusual feature of the Middle Egyptian language), Professor Brier invites you to do a little applied hieroglyphs. How does a little knowledge of hieroglyphs help us answer some biblical questions about iconic events from the book of Exodus?...
11: Dependent Pronouns and the Passive Voice
Dependent pronouns, as you'll learn, don't have to be added onto any other word; they stand alone and are usually the object of the verb. From there, you'll consider the first expedition to copy hieroglyphs (epigraphy), and learn about a current program designed to save inscriptions on fragile temple walls.
12: Past Tense and Adjectives
Start working with the past tense in your hieroglyphic sentences (the secret involves tacking a water sign onto a verb). Then, expand your Egyptian vocabulary to include new biliterals, as well as adjectives like "evil" and "excellent." Also, learn how to use adjectives as modifiers, predicates, and nouns....
13: New Ideograms Related to the Gods
From suns and pillars to flagpoles and scepters, uncover what the hieroglyphs of gods reveal about ancient Egyptian thought and belief. For example, flagpoles were the ideogram for "god" (pronounced netcher) and ram-headed scepters (pronounced was) were representations of power inspired by the god Amun....
14: Names of the Pharaohs
Learn how the kings of Egypt wrote their names. Using the Sneferu stela as a guide, examine the development of a pharaoh's five royal titles: the "Horus" name, the "King of Upper and Lower Egypt" name, the "Two Ladies" name, the "Golden Horus" name, and the "Son of Re" name....
15: Ancient Egyptian Numbers
Learn the Egyptian way of writing whole numbers and fractions, which were used to keep track of everything from taxes to dates when the Nile would rise. Also, visit the mortuary temple of Ramses III, where a pile of hands reveals how many enemy soldiers were killed in battle....
16: The Egyptian Calendar
Explore why the calendar was crucial to Egypt's success as a nation, and learn how the civilization divided a year into months and seasons based on the activity of the Nile River. Then, find out how Egyptologists use ancient Egyptian calendars to pinpoint dates....
17: Names of the Gods
By understanding hieroglyphic names of gods and goddesses, you can read the stories told on temple walls. Among the pantheon of deities you'll learn to recognize are Isis and Osiris, Atum (the first terrestrial god), and the earth and sky gods Geb and Nut....
18: Negation in Ancient Egyptian Sentences
How do you say "no" in ancient Egyptian? The answer, it turns out, involves knowing how to use (and draw) your arms. After practicing your skills at negation, you'll follow Professor Brier on a study tour of amulets (for both the dead and living) as "three-dimensional" hieroglyphs....
19: Reading Hieroglyphic Jewelry
With your newfound knowledge of hieroglyphs, decipher what several pieces of exquisite ancient jewelry say - and why they're more than just pretty, decorative baubles. The jewels you examine include a pectoral worn by Queen Meret (used as political propaganda) and one worn by Princess Sat-Hathor (used for protection).
20: Palimpsests: When Scribes Make Mistakes
What happens when a scribe makes a mistake-especially when the hieroglyph is carved in stone? How do modern archaeologists know how to recognize errors? Using inscriptions on the Pyramid of Unas and at Abydos Temple, explore the topic of palimpsests, the writing of one text over another....
21: An Ancient Egyptian Prayer for the Dead
Enter the temples and tombs of the ancient Egyptians and explore some of the fascinating hieroglyphic prayers inscribed on their walls. Central to this lecture is a standard prayer for the dead that started in the Old Kingdom: the Hotep-di-nesu, which asked the king to grant an offering to Osiris....
22: Translating the Tomb of Perneb
Join Professor Brier for an in-depth tour of the Tomb of Perneb's hieroglyphs-specifically those in its chapel, or mastaba. What lies behind the "false door" common to chapels like this? Why were ka-priests so important to the afterlife of the wealthy?...
23: Translating Tutankhamen's Tomb
In the first of two lectures on the most famous find in all archaeology, learn the story of the excavation of King Tut's tomb. Then, translate some of the inscriptions on the gilded shrines in the Egyptian ruler's burial chamber (among them: messages by carpenters for use in construction)....
24: King Tut's Magic Mirror and Sarcophagus
Decode and understand the inscriptions on two astonishing artifacts: a magic mirror used during Tutankhamen's lifetime and the lid of the pharaoh's sarcophagus. Then, conclude the course with suggestions on how to continue studying hieroglyphs, including scholarly resources and translation tips....