- How to read Hieroglyphs
When we read English, we read from left to right, in a straight line. Hieroglyphics are written in rows or columns and can be read from left to right, right to left, or top to bottom. The key to reading hieroglyphics is to look at the animals or humans. These always face the direction the line should be read from. For instance, if all the animals are facing right, it should be read from right to left. If all the animals are facing left, it should be read from left to right. The picture below would be read from left to right, since all the animals are facing left.
Sometimes there are two or more pictures on top of one another. If this happenes, the top picture is always read before the bottom.
In Egyptian culture, rows were used in legal documents and on burial linens. Columns were used on doorways, tomb walls, and momuments. We would not know what any of the hieroglyphs meant if it weren't for the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is a tablet written in three different languages: Hieroglyphics, Arabic (Demotic), and Greek. This tablet allowed us to translate hieroglyphs.
Sometimes in hieroglyphics, there is a picture that looks like an oval with a line at one end: This is a cartouche. A real cartouche is a tablet with an inscription in it. In hieroglyphics, a cartouche is a symbol that represents authority and power. Inside of the cartouche are written names. Only the names of pharaohs and gods were written in cartouches. Nowadays you can purchase your own cartouche with your name engraved on it: Nice, aren't they?
Egyptian graphics provided by the web site "The Tomb of the Chihuahua Pharaohs" which can be found listed in Yahoo.