Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Language

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
June 21, 2021 - July 21, 20216/21 - 7/214 WeeksOnlineOpenOnlineMaria Victoria Almansa Villatoro

Course Description

Would you like to learn one of the oldest attested languages in the world in an easy and engaging way? What do the birds, eyes, and other symbols carved on 4000 years old tomb and temple walls mean? In this course, you will study the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic script and the language that was used by the pharaohs in their everyday life. Learn fascinating facts about the African civilization that set the foundations of our modern world while reading their ancient texts by yourself and in cooperation with your peers!

This class is an introduction to the classical stage of the ancient Egyptian language known as Middle Egyptian. The language was spoken in Egypt more than four millennia ago, and it is a far relative of Arabic, Hebrew or Somali. You will first learn how the Egyptians used hieroglyphs to code their words, phrases, and even abstract ideas. Our engaging and fun activities will involve adopting your own ancient Egyptian name, writing both your names in hieroglyphs, and meaning-guessing games. Then you will be introduced to the basics of Egyptian vocabulary and grammar and will be ready to start your own first translations. We will do group readings of real ancient texts, such as funerary stelae and excerpts of Egyptian tales and stories. Quizzes will help me to assess your learning experience and fill-in any knowledge gaps.

As a result of completing this course, students will be able to transcribe and translate most Middle Egyptian hieroglyphic texts. They will be familiar with all Egyptian literary genres, writing supports (papyri, ostraca...), and the basics of Egyptian history and culture. Most importantly, they will get a crucial exposure to a rarely studied African language that will demonstrate their intellectual curiosity, multicultural knowledge, and problem-solving skills. The acquired logical and teamwork abilities will be easily transferred to disciplines beyond history and linguistics.

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Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEG0912

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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