BA Ancient History

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE25561
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit will focus on the reading and translation of Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs, the ‘Classical’ form of the ancient Egyptian script. It will focus on giving students a solid grounding in Middle Egyptian grammar and the practical concerns facing translators of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. The texts covered in this unit will be primarily funerary in nature, focusing for instance on Offering Formulae and Appeals to the Living. To this end, the texts under discussion will frequently be taken from objects such as stela in museum collections both in the Manchester Museum and elsewhere. In the latter half of the unit, the teaching will also focus on how to effectively translate fragments of Middle Egyptian literature such as the Tale of Sinuhe and the Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor. At the end of the unit, students will have a solid understanding of Middle Egyptian grammar and the ability to translate both formulaic funerary and more complex literary texts.


  • to introduce students to Middle Egyptian grammatical rules.
  • to provide students with a solid understanding of the issues facing translators when working with Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs.
  • to introduce students to a range of Middle Egyptian textual types both religious and literary in nature.
  • to encourage students to use their translation skills to more critically engage directly with ancient Egyptian texts, rather than wholly relying on previously translated materials.

Knowledge and understanding

· to understand the full range of text types found in ancient Egyptian contexts: religious, funerary, everyday and literary.

· to demonstrate an awareness of the different stages of translation including transliteration and grammatical analysis.

· to better understand the magico-religious function of Middle Egyptian funerary texts in particular.

Intellectual skills

· to present a cogent argument in oral and written form.

· to successfully conduct independent translation work.

· to effectively conduct independent research and create textual precis.

Practical skills

· to translate Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs accurately.

· to effectively and independently manage time.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

· to discuss problems and questions in a group setting.

· to engage critically with texts in a foreign language.

· to construct and present a clear, reasoned argument in written form.

Employability skills

This course will imbue students with several desirable transferable skills and bolster their usefulness to an employer, in particular a much greater understanding of the grammatical building blocks of language, as well as an independently minded and critical approach to translation work.

Assessment methods

Type Weight
Midterm 40%
Exam 60%


Feedback methods

Written feedback 

Oral feedback in a dedicated seminar session and upon request during office hours

Recommended reading

· Allen, J. P. 2010. Middle Egyptian Grammar: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. Cambridge University Press.

· Collier, M. and Manley, B. 1998. How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. British Museum Press.

· Faulkner, R. O. 1954. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian. Oxford University.

· Gardiner, A. 1924. Egyptian Grammar. Clarendon Press.

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Marina Escolano Poveda Unit coordinator

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