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Hieroglyphs: A Very Short Introduction

Penelope Wilson

Publication Date - June 2005

ISBN: 9780192805027

136 pages

A fascinating introduction that explores the cultural significance of hieroglyphs


Hieroglyphs were far more than a language. They were an omnipresent and all-powerful force in communicating the messages of ancient Egyptian culture for over three thousand years. This ancient form of expression was used as art, as a means of identifying Egyptian-ness, even for communication with the gods. In this exciting new study, Penelope Wilson explores the cultural significance of hieroglyphs with an emphasis on previously neglected areas such as cryptography and the continuing deciphering of the script in modern times. She covers topics like the origins of writing in Egypt, hieroglyphic script and the Egyptian language, hieroglyphs and art, scribes and everyday writing. She also examines the powerful fascination hieroglyphs still hold for us today.

This book is the ideal reference for anyone with an interest in the fascinating civilization of Ancient Egypt.


  • Discusses the function and importance of hieroglyphs within the framework of Ancient Egyptian culture, and looks at the importance of hieroglyphs today
  • Explores the cultural significance of hieroglyphs with an emphasis on previously neglected areas such as cryptography

About the Author(s)

Penelope Wilson is Lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Durham and the author of Sacred Signs: Hieroglyphs in Ancient Egypt.

Table of Contents

    1. The origins of writing in Egypt
    2. Hieroglyphic script and the Egyptian language
    3. Hieroglyphs and art
    4. 'I Know You, I Know Your Names'
    5. Scribes and everyday writing
    6. The decipherment of Egyptian
    7. Hieroglyphs in the modern world
    Further Reading