The English Egyptologist, Sir Alan Gardiner, arranged the hieroglyphic signs of ancient Egypt into a number of sections in order to aid categorisation. You will sometimes find the signs organised in other ways (for example grouping tall signs together), and there are a few signs which could be added to the list, but the majority of sources still use his system. His sign list is fairly complete, and accepted by most Egyptologists.
Some of the lists are self explanatory and contain few surprises (for example most of the signs on the list of mammals act as determinatives for the word for that animal), but there are also many signs with rather surprising meanings (such as signs relating to the parts of animals). There are also a number of signs which had to be placed in the final section of unclassified hieroglyphs, either because they don’t fit naturally anywhere else or because we are not entirely sure what they are.
Conspiracy theorists will note there are no UFOs or helicopters on any of these lists!
Resources to help translate hieroglyphs
- Pronunciation guide
- Single consonant signs
- The basics: Part one – Phonograms, Logograms and Determinatives
- The basics: Part two – nouns and Prepositions
- Verbs: Part one – verb classes, infinitives
- Verbs: Part two – present tense and past tense,
- Relative Forms
- Word Order
Copyright J Hill 2008