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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs: An Introduction (online) (PGHC11506)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting 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 discuss the role of literacy in the ancient Egyptian society, will explore ancient Egyptian myths, beliefs about death and the afterlife, and the social and divine hierarchies that governed Egyptian life.

The course is conceived for online delivery. There are taught components, delivered through lectures that students will listen to, and they can post questions relating to these. These questions can be addressed within the live seminars and/or answered online. There are more interactive activities, where students will have to respond to questions or translate elements.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs: The Basics and Beyond (ARCA10091) OR Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs: The Basics and Beyond (PGHC11548)
Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  21
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 18/09/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Online Activities 22, 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 500 word commentary description (40%)
1 translation exercise with commentary notes and a 2000 word essay to contextualise the text (60%)

Students will be set a formative translation and commentary exercise to prepare for the summative translation exercises.
Feedback Students will receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
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 hieroglyphic script and recognise a wide variety of key signs.
  2. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the main phases of the ancient Egyptian language as well as of the various scripts.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of contextualisation of the texts in relation to important aspects of ancient Egyptian society, especially those evident in funerary inscriptions.
  4. 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.
  5. Critically analyse translations in secondary sources (written potentially in other language than English) in order to reflect on their own translation skills and improve them.
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.

Assmann, J. 2001. Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt. Trans. David Lorton. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.

Borghouts, J. 2010. Egyptian. An Introduction to the Writing and Language of the Middle Kingdom. Peeters Publishers, Leuven

Ermann, A. and Grapow, H. 1971. Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache, Vol. I-V. Berlin: Akademie Verlag

Faulkner, R.O. 1962. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian. Oxford: Griffith Institute.

Gardiner, Alan H. 1957. Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs. Oxford University Press, Oxford

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.

Taylor, John H. 2001. Death and the Afterlife. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

Wilkinson, Richard H. 1992. Reading Egyptian Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Learning a script which is characterized 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 learn how to access secondary literature written in German or French without necessarily mastering these languages.
- 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.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Zsuzsanna Vegh
Tel: (0131 6)50 4620
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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