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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Egyptian Languages: Explained

By tcrnlmb, on 23 January 2018

In our collection, we have representations of texts in all the major Egyptian languages.

What, more than one? Yes! From ancient Egypt to historical Egypt to modern Egypt, there were many different scripts and languages used…


Limestone stela hieroglyph fragments with words from hymns (UC14583)

Limestone stela fragments with words from hymns (UC14583)


The script that is most recognisably Ancient Egyptian®. One of the oldest scripts used by the ancient Egyptians – and the script with the most longevity – its origins can be seen very early on in Egypt’s history, starting out life as single or small groups of signs that represented entire concepts or specific sounds. Already in the Early Dynastic Period (3100-2686BC), these signs were beginning to become standardised and by the 3rd Dynasty (2686-2613BC) were used in a wide range of contexts. They were, however, especially associated with religious texts, as it was believed that the beauty and monumental nature of hieroglyphs indicated that they were the ‘words of the gods’ (medu-netjer) and intended to be read by them.



Who’s Great?

By Debbie J Challis, on 25 March 2011

The answer is Alexander, or more properly Alexander III of Macedon. In February I accompanied the Friends of the Petrie Museum to Holland to see two exhibitions on Alexander the Great at the Hermitage Museum and Allard Pearson museum in Amsterdam.

Although I work at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, I am a rogue classicist with an unhealthy interest in Greek Egypt. My partner in crime, John J Johnston, and myself had already planned to theme our LGBT History Month for 2011 around Alexander the Great in 2010. We were then very excited to see that two exhibitions were planned around Alexander in Amsterdam. Jan Picton, Secretary of the Friends of the Petrie Museum, suggested that I tag along on a Friends trip to assist with information.

We also visited the Leiden National Museum of Archaeology where two Buddhist heads (see above) from Afghanistan in the ‘Greek style’ reminded me how far flung Alexander’s empire and Hellenic influence spread in his eastern campaign.