Handwritten Egyptian: from cursive hieroglyphs to hieratic (online) ADED3024E

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: Short Courses
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 3 (SCQF level 9)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Taught Wholly by Distance Learning: Yes

Short Description

NB: This course is delivered asynchronously ie the course materials are provided on Moodle (our online learning platform) to allow self-paced learning, with no live online sessions.


Following on from ancient Egyptian language courses at levels one and two, this course offers students the chance to engage with a different form of the Egyptian script which was written in ink rather than carved into stone, and to read a variety of texts in that medium. Starting with the cursive hieroglyphs that are found in Coffin Texts and Book of the Dead manuscripts, we will progress onto reading selected texts in fully cursive hieratic, with the Colin Campbell ostraca in the Hunterian forming a special case study.


Block 1

2 hours per week for 10 weeks

Delivered online - materials released on Thursdays

Requirements of Entry

It is mandatory that students have successfully completed Ancient Egyptian texts 1A and Ancient Egyptian texts 1B. Additionally, it is recommended that students have successfully completed either Intermediate Hieroglyphs or Advanced hieroglyphs, and ideally have completed both.

Excluded Courses





Transcription, with commentary, of a Coffin Text or Book of the Dead spell (due in Week 5: 25%)

Transcription, with commentary, of a literary text excerpt (due in Week 7: 25%)

Paleographic study of a Colin Campbell ostracon (c. 1000 words, due in Week 9: 20%)

Critical review essay of a published transcription and translation (c. 2000 words, due at the end of the course: 30%).

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ build students' skills and confidence in reading ancient Egyptian texts written in cursive hieroglyphs and hieratic

■ develop students' appraisal of paleographic features of handwritten Egyptian, noting especially forms that appear to be idiosyncratic to that medium

■ explore and analyse the differences encountered between highly visual hieroglyphic inscription and handwritten texts on papyri and ostraca, often lacking in pictorial accompaniment.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ read and translate both cursive and hieratic texts in Egyptian and comment on their paleography

■ critically analyse published transcriptions of cursive and hieratic texts into hieroglyphs, paying particular attention to assumed 'equivalences' between those media

■ identify and discuss the semantics of handwritten Egyptian, comparing and contrasting it with that of carved inscriptions.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.