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Reading Ancient Egyptian Inscriptions


Admission requirements

BA degree or degree of equivalent level.


The ancient Egyptian civilization has left an overwhelming amount of textual material, which provides essential information alongside archaeological and art-historical data. This intensive course provides the practical tools for dealing with texts in the hieroglyphic writing system, in order to be able to critically use translations in publications. A complete identification of the different kinds of signs and an overview of the major textbooks will provide the basic knowledge to work with Egyptian textual material in a scientific way. The emphasis is on texts commonly found in monumental contexts, and the classes are partly held in the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO). Apart from studying examples of common inscriptions, the course is aimed at understanding their all-important relationship to pictorial depictions and monumental structures.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students will have a basic knowledge of the hieroglyphic script and the grammatical structure of the language. They will be able to read simple inscriptions and know how to perform research in order to decipher more complicated ones.


  • The course starts with an intensive course over three days.

  • The course meets semester I, block 1, twice per week.
    For the most recent update of the timetable click here.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and tutorial.

Assessment method

An examination in Toetsweek A, covering theoretical and applied grammatical knowledge.


Detailed information about scheduling and supplementary materials will be posted on Blackboard

Reading list

Mark Collier and Bill Manley 2003, How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: a Step-by-Step Guide to Teach Yourself. London: The British Museum Press, 2003.


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

The instructor Dr H.M. Hays.