Hieroglyphs: Say What?
When you want to get a friend on the other side of the classroom to meet you
for lunch (without disrupting class and getting in trouble) what do you do?
Write her a note that says something like "meet me for lunch," right?
Easy enough. But what if you and your friend don't speak the same language? How
would you get your message across?
What about pictures? Before there was a written language, people used pictures
to communicate. That's how ancient Egyptians recorded ideas. Their pictures
were called hieroglyphs. The problem with pictures, though, is that not
everybody agrees on what they mean. Take these hieroglyphs, for example:
Hmmm. Some birds, a half moon, a feather, and a oval. Or
maybe that half moon is a stone sticking out of the ground. And maybe the oval
is really a hole in the ground. Maybe what it means is that two birds standing
by a rock have a hole to jump in if trouble happens by. That might make sense,
but it's not quite right. The pictures simply mean "water."
Say what? How could that possibly mean water, you ask? Good question.
Want to know more? Look at more hieroglyphs and see if you
can crack the code.
Pyramids Home | Pyramids | Excavation
Contents | Mail
NOVA Home | WGBH Home | PBS Home
Search | Feedback | Shop
© 1997 WGBH and PBS
Support provided by
For new content
visit the redesigned