How we deciphered Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs - Deepstash
Productivity Systems

Learn more about communication with this collection

How to set achievable goals

How to create and stick to a schedule

How to break down large projects into smaller manageable tasks

Productivity Systems

Discover 46 similar ideas in

It takes just

6 mins to read

Ancient Egypt and hieroglyphs

Ancient Egypt has exerted power of influence on the world of learning for over two millennia.

The Greek historian Herodotus identified the pyramids at Giza as places of royal burial, but his works did not help 19th Century scholars in understanding ancient Egyptian writing. Greek and Roman writers could not read hieroglyphs either.


299 reads

Ancient Egypt: How the language fell in disuse

  • Ancient Egypt was conquered, first by Persians, then by Macedonian Greeks under Alexander the Great in 332BC.
  • The Ptolematic dynasty, named after Alexander's general, Ptolemy I, ruled Egypt for three centuries. It ended with the death of Cleopatra VII and the Roman occupation in 30BC.
  • From AD 395, Egypt was ruled first by Coptic Christians, then by Muslims, until the time of Napoleon.
  • Spoken Coptic descended from the language of ancient Egypt, but written Coptic was entirely alphabetic, like Greek. Still, the Coptic language provided approximate pronunciation for hieroglyphs.


162 reads

An attempt at understanding hieroglyphs

Greek and Roman authors thought that hieroglyphs were symbols of ancient Egyptian wisdom. They dismissed any phonetic component in the hieroglyphs.

This misguided view of hieroglyphs as 'picture writing' obscured any attempt at deciphering it. Near the 18th Century, Danish scholar Georg Zoëga thought that some hieroglyphs might be phonetic signs.


121 reads

The turning point in understanding hieroglyphs

The turning point in understanding hieroglyphs

  • In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt. Military engineers discovered the Rosetta Stone in July 1799 while rebuilding an old fort in the Nile Delta.
  • It was clear that the bottom inscription on the Rosetta Stone was written in the Greek alphabet and the top part in Egyptian hieroglyphs.
  • In the middle was a script about which little was known. Today we know this scripts as a cursive form of ancient Egyptian writing.


115 reads

Hieroglyphs: breaking the code

  • In 1802, a French and a Swedish scholar used similar techniques to unravel the text. They searched for the name Ptolemy, by isolating repeated groups of symbols in about the same position as the Greek inscription.
  • They drew up a tentative alphabet and applied it to the rest of the inscription. Other words such as 'Greek', 'Egypt', and 'temple' could be identified. But the demotic text (a cursive form of hieroglyphs) was not an alphabet, nor completely unrelated to hieroglyphic.
  • In 1815, an English scientist and polymath, Thomas Young, traced how the pictographic hieroglyphs, showing people, animals, plants and other objects, had developed into their abstract, cursive equivalents in demotic. Young concluded that demotic consisted of a mixture between hieroglyphics and letters of the alphabet.


103 reads

The name of Cleopatra: A crucial clue in understanding hieroglyphs

In 1822, Jean-François Champollion found an essential clue from the newly discovered cartouche (oval rings enclosing certain groups of hieroglyphs, generally names and titles) containing the name of Cleopatra. The alphabet was now mostly correct and allowed him to translate the names of dozens of rulers.

When Tutankhamun's cartouche was discovered in 1922 and deciphered, it turned out that the "chick" pictogram was phonetic for the vowel 'u', the 'shepherd's crook' was a symbol meaning 'ruler. This was the turn of uncovering the secrets of a great civilisation.


98 reads



Problem solver. Award-winning reader. Devoted food geek. Certified travel evangelist. Incurable explorer.


Explore the World’s

Best Ideas

200,000+ ideas on pretty much any topic. Created by the smartest people around & well-organized so you can explore at will.

An Idea for Everything

Explore the biggest library of insights. And we've infused it with powerful filtering tools so you can easily find what you need.

Knowledge Library

Powerful Saving & Organizational Tools

Save ideas for later reading, for personalized stashes, or for remembering it later.

# Personal Growth

Take Your Ideas


Organize your ideas & listen on the go. And with Pro, there are no limits.

Listen on the go

Just press play and we take care of the words.

Never worry about spotty connections

No Internet access? No problem. Within the mobile app, all your ideas are available, even when offline.

Get Organized with Stashes

Ideas for your next work project? Quotes that inspire you? Put them in the right place so you never lose them.


2 Million Stashers


5,740 Reviews

App Store


72,690 Reviews

Google Play


Don’t look further if you love learning new things. A refreshing concept that provides quick ideas for busy thought leaders.

Shankul Varada

Best app ever! You heard it right. This app has helped me get back on my quest to get things done while equipping myself with knowledge everyday.

Sean Green

Great interesting short snippets of informative articles. Highly recommended to anyone who loves information and lacks patience.

Ashley Anthony

This app is LOADED with RELEVANT, HELPFUL, AND EDUCATIONAL material. It is creatively intellectual, yet minimal enough to not overstimulate and create a learning block. I am exceptionally impressed with this app!

Ghazala Begum

Even five minutes a day will improve your thinking. I've come across new ideas and learnt to improve existing ways to become more motivated, confident and happier.

Giovanna Scalzone

Brilliant. It feels fresh and encouraging. So many interesting pieces of information that are just enough to absorb and apply. So happy I found this.

Laetitia Berton

I have only been using it for a few days now, but I have found answers to questions I had never consciously formulated, or to problems I face everyday at work or at home. I wish I had found this earlier, highly recommended!

Jamyson Haug

Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.

Read & Learn

20x Faster





Access to 200,000+ ideas

Access to the mobile app

Unlimited idea saving & library

Unlimited history

Unlimited listening to ideas

Downloading & offline access

Personalized recommendations

Supercharge your mind with one idea per day

Enter your email and spend 1 minute every day to learn something new.


I agree to receive email updates