Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were one of the hardest of Ancient Egypt's facts and mysteries to uncover! Check out how the Egyptian writing works and what it all represents, you can even find out how to spell your name in hieroglyphics - cool!
Although hieroglyphics are Egyptian, the word hieroglyphics is Greek. 'Hiero' means 'holy' and 'glyphics' means 'marks' or 'writings' - so the word means 'holy writings'. The Egyptians believed there was great power in a name. If someone's name was remembered then he or she would survive in the afterlife. That's why pharaohs' names were written in hieroglyphics in their tombs!
Most of the pictures can stand for the object they represent, but usually they stand for sounds. In Egyptian, the owl stands for the sound 'm'. The Egyptian symbol for a mouth can mean mouth but it's usually read as the sound 'r'. You can't exactly match our alphabet to hieroglyphics, because they are two very different languages, but historians have come up with a simplified translation of our letters and Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Hieroglyphics can be pictures of living creatures, objects used in daily life or symbols. Some are easy to identify, some confusing and some impossible! If you look at the alphabet chart, you can easily spot the foot, the hand, the lion and the owl, but why are there two different kinds of snakes?
From A to Sh, the hieroglyphic symbols are:
A an Egyptian vulture
B a foot
C a basket with handle
D a hand
E a reed
F a horned viper (an Egyptian snake)
G a jar-stand
H a reed shelter
I a reed
J a cobra
K the basket with the handle again (because hard 'C' is like 'K')
L a lion
M an owl
N a zigzag symbol for water
O a lasso
P a square stool
Q a symbol for the slope of a hill
R a mouth
S a piece of linen folded over
T a bun
U a quail chick (which stands for the sound 'U')
V a horned viper
W a quail chick
X a basket and folded linen
Y two reeds
Z a door bolt
CH a hobble
KH a ball of string
SH the rectangle (which is the symbol for land)
Why don't you use the hieroglyphic chart above to see if you can write your own name?
For more about the Ancient Egyptians and their hieroglyphics, check out this cool clip...
Be sure to read our other fab features about Ancient Egypt, too!