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How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Teach Yourself [Hardcover]

Mark Collier
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Jun 2003 0520239490 978-0520239494 Revised edition
Hieroglyphs are pictures used as signs in writing. When standing before an ancient tablet in a museum or visiting an Egyptian monument, we marvel at this unique writing and puzzle over its meaning. Now, with the help of Egyptologists Mark Collier and Bill Manley, museum-goers, tourists, and armchair travelers alike can gain a basic knowledge of the language and culture of ancient Egypt.

Collier and Manley's novel approach is informed by years of experience teaching Egyptian hieroglyphs to non-specialists. Using attractive drawings of actual inscriptions displayed in the British Museum, they concentrate on the kind of hieroglyphs readers might encounter in other collections, especially funerary writings and tomb scenes. Each chapter introduces a new aspect of hieroglyphic script or Middle Egyptian grammar and encourages acquisition of reading skills with practical exercises.

The texts offer insights into the daily experiences of their ancient authors and touch on topics ranging from pharaonic administration to family life to the Egyptian way of death. With this book as a guide, one can enjoy a whole new experience in understanding Egyptian art and artifacts around the world.

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How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Teach Yourself + Egyptian Hieroglyphs for Complete Beginners: The Revolutionary New Approach to Reading the Monuments
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Revised edition edition (30 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520239490
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520239494
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 752,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Authors

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Product Description


"Whether you're a budding Indiana Jones or just curious, translating ancient tomb inscriptions is now possible with "How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs, by Mark Collier and Bill Manley. They reveal the bizarre idiosyncrasies of hieroglyph construction, syntax and grammar."--"American Scientist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mark Collier is Lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. Bill Manley teaches Egyptology at the University of Glasgow. Richard Parkinson is Curator in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book!! 12 Dec 2005
A brilliant book which is clear, easy to understand, and simple enough for anyone who is dedicated and has an open mind to learn from. I am only 16 years old, so if I can already read simple offering formulas and descriptions of ethical behaviour, most people can. It gets harder as the book progresses but not too hard that I get stuck, and if I am desperate, there are answers to the exercises in the back to help me work out what I have done wrong so I can learn from my mistakes. I am already on chapter 7 and have already had no problems with it, because the teaching is step-by-step until the end of every chapter when there are exercises to do, which are accompanied by vocabulary lists to help transliterate and translate, and in the back of the book there are sign lists with info and even a short dictionary. There is enough in this small book to be able to go to museums or even Egypt itself and impress those around you by the skills you have learnt from this book! This is a perfect start to my career in Egyptology!
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
After various false starts, I came across this book and love it. Paced just right for the self-taught beginner and Egytian enthusiast ( like me ), it gives you samples of real text to work with from the word go. Quite apart from giving an excellent introduction to hieroglyphs themselves, it also equips you to get to grips with Egyptian grammar, language and thus Ancient Egyptian thought. The emphasis throughout is on understanding structure and meaning in Egyptian inscriptions. I can't wait to get back to the British Museum and try out my new-found knowledge on actual artefacts. It certainly whets the appetite for more. Wonderful.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction 24 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This is a first-rate introduction to the study of Egyptian hieroglyphs. It introduces the reader systematically and at a measured pace to the major signs, and has clearly written grammatical explanations. It also uses real texts - photographs of stelae inscriptions - from a very early stage so that you feel you are dealing with the real thing. A very good book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hieroglyphs come alive 7 Jan 2002
By Mr. M. A. Bowles VINE VOICE
Here is a self-teaching book that brings hieroglyphs alive. Based on exhibits at the British Museum the book takes you step-by-step through the bare minimum necessary to see into that mysterious world. The authors have created a book that has undergone several revisions to satisfy the home learner and it does hit the spot. If you want a better understanding of hieroglyphs this book can help you on your way. The remote teaching technique is geared up to explain just enough background to put you at your ease. The lessons are well constructed and backed up by plenty of self-testing sessions to allow you to check your progress. As you work through the lessons you are gaining insights into all manner of areas. For those of you who need a little extra encouragement look forward to impressing yourself translating some of the exhibits, live, in the British Museum.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cat Square Squiggle God-symbol 22 Nov 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
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.
Read more ›
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good guide, but slightly flawed 1 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This book is a course on Hieroglyphics, pure and simple. This
means that you have to stick at it, and do the exercises fully.
If you get any of the questions wrong, it is *very* advisable to
go back and find out why.
Most books on language start out with "one ox", "two oxen".. and
so on.. eventually getting to "my pyramid" etc, but you just
don't get this. There's no exhaustive use of the information
presented, in order to help it sink in. You must do any extra
example-hunting yourself (Oxford History of Ancient Egypt is an excellent place for lots of pictures of Hieroglyphs).
I give it four points because it is an amazing book, but lacks
the 'extra stuff' which could give the reader a mental rest
between the barrages of information, or the usual linguistic
training aids. Don't let this put you off though. There is
*no* other book which will teach you hieroglyphics as well or as
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
Arrived in great condition and on time. This is the book I used at university to study hieroglyphs and was very helpful.
Published 4 months ago by Lea
5.0 out of 5 stars Egyptian Hieroglyphics
An excellent book making it very clear how hieroglyphics were created and their meanings. Unusually for teach yourself guides with this one you actually can.teach yourself.
Published 4 months ago by Denis Adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Guildford Institute
I have recently done a very short course on reading Egyptian Hieroglyphs, with Clive B.Carter at the Guildford Institute, he recommended this book, and it has proved invaluable.
Published 7 months ago by Vince Hawkins
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book.
After finishing this book, I can say:

- an easy meal for beginners, a fast way to create your basic skills in egyptian hieroglyphs;
- i find it the best book for... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Stefan Simeonov
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Bought this book as I am very much interested in hieroglyphs. It has also come in handy for a course I am doing at university.
Published 13 months ago by April
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm !!
Not quite sure yet. Seems a little too packed together, think adding more pages and spreading out some of the text may have been good. Read more
Published 20 months ago by kdl
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient language
It was really useful and went a long way to helping me understand and read one of the world oldest languages
Published 21 months ago by Ms. J. Missenden
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
It's not easy to learn hieroglyphs, so don't be fooled into thinking you can pick this up and be able to read whole inscriptions overnight - but it's a great guide which provides a... Read more
Published on 1 Oct 2011 by Neilos S
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good book
I haven't read the whole of the book yet, I am still in chapter 2. However, even at the end of this chapter I am able to read and translate the names of ancient Egyptian pharaohs,... Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2011 by Andreas
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Starter Book
This is the third book I bought on how to read Egyptian Heiroglyphs. It is undoubtedly the best by far. Read more
Published on 25 July 2011 by witbankboy
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