This is a short, two-part course of video lectures and follow-up resources which is designed to give you a quick introduction to the basics of Ancient Egyptian. It aims to demystify the language: like any other language, Egyptian is very logical, and once you know the key rules which it follows, things can fall into place quite quickly. The first lecture looks at the Egyptian writing system. It begins by discussing the different scripts that could be used to write the language, and then focusses specifically on hieroglyphs. The various types of hieroglyph are introduced, and examples are used to show how these different hieroglyphs could fit together to form words. By the end of this lecture, you should be in a position to read and write simple Egyptian words (such as the ones in the supplementary information pack).

The second lecture is about Egyptian grammar. You will learn how hieroglyphs and words combine to form sentences. The lecture starts by exploring basic word order in Egyptian – a pattern which is true for any sentence, and which is the key to all further study of the language. A very simple example sentence is then modified in various ways to illustrate various grammatical teaching points, including how to use verbs in the present and past tense, how to add emphasis to sentences, how to change gender in nouns, how to convey plurals, how to use adjectives, how to express possession, and how to form compound sentences. By the end of the course, you obviously won’t know all of Egyptian, but you will be able to translate a wide range of sentences and should be able to write simple messages in Egyptian, should you wish to do so. Most importantly, the course will give you an excellent insight into how the language works, how it can be taught, and whether you might be interested in learning more of it in the future.

Video Resources

Lesson 1: An Introduction to Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Lesson 2: An Introduction to Egyptian Grammar

Video Resource

Video Resource

Resource activities

Activity Worksheet

This activity sheet gives you an opportunity to test your skills as a translator of Egyptian. Everything you need to know is covered in the video lectures, and you can look up new words and individual hieroglyphs in the supplementary information pack. There are five sentences to work through, and each one tests different aspects of your hieroglyphic and grammatical knowledge. In each case, you need to both transliterate the sentences (i.e. write out the sounds represented by the hieroglyphs) and then translate them. If you get stuck, the answers are on the final page – but avoid looking at them too early, as the process of puzzling out meaning from what you know already is a key part of trying your hand as an Egyptologist!  


Hieroglyphs Resource Pack

Here is the supplementary information pack where you can look up new words and individual hieroglyphs. 


Hieroglyphs Resource Pack (accessible format)


Activity Worksheet (accessible format)


Reflective questions

To answer and record these questions you will need to have an account and be logged in.

Task 1

What are the key arguments, concepts, points contained within it?

Task 2

What are you struggling to understand?

What could you do to improve your understanding of these concepts/terminology etc.?

Task 3

What further questions has this resource raised for you?

What else are you keen to discover about this topic and how could you go about learning more?

Can you make any links between this topic and your prior knowledge or school studies?

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Further reading