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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Archaeology

Undergraduate Course: Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs: The Basics and Beyond (ARCA10091)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces students to the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic script, focusing on Middle Egyptian which was in use from c. 2000 BCE until the end of Egyptian history. It assumes no prior knowledge and begins with the basics of sign function and word formation. By the end of the course, students will be able to read a variety of funerary inscriptions and have a firm grounding in their cultural context. There will be a special focus on hieroglyphic inscriptions in Scottish Museum collections.
Course description This course applies a context-based approach. Each week, students will build their knowledge of aspects of ancient Egyptian grammar and vocabulary until they are able to read full inscriptions. They will ground this experience with an exploration of the underlying cultural context of the texts they are learning to read. We will explore creation myths, beliefs about death and the afterlife, and the social and divine hierarchies that governed Egyptian life.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs: An Introduction (online) (PGHC11506) OR Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs: The Basics and Beyond (PGHC11548)
Other requirements The course is available to honours students on degrees in Archaeology, Classics and Divinity or by permission of the course organiser.
Additional Costs For the study of Egyptian language, it may be beneficial for the student to purchase their own copy of the main text book for the course to work through.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students must have 3 Archaeology courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Enrolments for this course are managed by the CAHSS Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department. All enquiries to enrol must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
1 translation exercise with commentary notes and a 250 word commentary description (40%)
1 translation exercise with commentary notes and a 1000 word essay to contextualise the text (60%)
Feedback Students will be set a formative translation and commentary exercise to prepare for the summative translation exercises. They will receive written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organisers via email and/or the e-learning platform.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the basic principles of the ancient Egyptian script and recognise a wide variety of key signs
  2. Identify and translate Offering Formulae, praising formulae and inscriptions with regnal dates, and identify and comment on significant features of Egyptian inscriptions, from grammatical and orthographic idiosyncrasies to broader features of artefacts' composition that speak to cultural characteristics
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of contextualisation of the texts in relation to important aspects of ancient Egyptian society, especially those evident in funerary inscriptions
  4. Critically analyse translations in secondary sources in order to reflect on their own translation skills and improve them
  5. Engage in discussions with tutor and peers, clearly elucidating their own opinions and considering those of others
Reading List
Text Book: Collier, M. and B. Manley. 1998 (2007, 2nd edition). How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. London: British Museum Press.

Allen, J. P. 2010. Middle Egyptian, Second Edition. An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Faulkner, R.O. 1962. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian. Oxford: Griffith Institute.
Parkinson, R. 1999. Cracking Codes. The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment. London: British Museum Press.
Parkinson, R. 1991 (2006, 2nd edition). Voices from Ancient Egypt. An Anthology of Middle Kingdom Writings. London: British Museum Press.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Learning a script which is characterised by variability and adaptability, will sharpen evaluative skills.

Students will both be critiquing the ancient texts read, and scholarly interpretations in translations, with an aim to providing their own translations and commentaries, thus demonstrating skills of critical analysis and practical application of those skills.

Students will have to be self-motivating, as much of the work will be done on their own; but there are also group activities in which they are going to be participating.
KeywordsHieroglyphs,ancient Egyptian language,Ancient Egypt,funerary inscriptions,Middle Egyptian
Course organiserDr Zsuzsanna Vegh
Tel: (0131 6)50 4620
Course secretaryMiss Mel Baker
Tel: (0131 6)50 4030
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