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Reading Ancient Egyptian Inscriptions


Admission requirements

Regular MA admission requirements.


This course offers 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. The course is aimed at understanding their all-important relationship to pictorial depictions and monumental structures.

Course objectives

The 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. They will gain knowledge of the tools needed to understand discussions on textual matters in the Egyptological literature.


Timetable to be arranged between student(s) and instructor.

For further information see the timetables on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and tutorial

Course load

Total course load for the course is 5 EC (140 hours), consisting of:

  • Classes, 22 hours;

  • Preparation for the classes and participation in the classes, 22 hours;

  • Preparation tests, 25 hours;

  • Reading inscriptions and reference works, preparation final exam, 71 hours.

Assessment method

Exam covering theoretical and applied grammatical knowledge:

  • Two tests vocabulary (both 10%)

  • Final exam (80%)

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average. Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the essay is to be revised after consultation with the teacher.

Re-sit: only the final exam (80% of end grade)



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, 2008.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University.

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

Registration Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs

Contact information

Prof. dr. O.E. Kaper