I thought I’d share a little of what we’ve been up to this past month in a series of installments.
The girls are learning all about Egypt at the moment and specifically, mummification. Not only has it been interesting, but it’s also been great fun with some really good hands on learning.
The beauty of this little endeavor is that I’d only planned for them to touch on hieroglyphics. After sourcing out learning materials though, I discovered a whole unit on mummification and the girls were all for that and from there it morphed into “Everything Egypt.”
I’m not sure if your children are similar, but mine are rather enthralled with “gruesome” — not that mummification is, but at first glance it does give that appearance — and so that was the jumping off point that had them “hooked” and eager to learn more.
Incidentally, the girls really enjoyed hieroglyphics too — writing out their names, as well as creating some secret passages, which had hilarious results if deciphered incorrectly and made for some side splitting laughter.
FOR YOUR OWN HIEROGLYPH FUN – Translation Chart HERE.
Basic Hieroglyph History (from Neferchichi’s Tomb)
Hieroglyphic writing first began around 5000 years ago. Egyptians wrote in hieroglyphs up to about 400 AD, after that they wrote in a short-hand cursive style called demotic. Eventually everyone forgot how to write in hieroglyphs.
But now we are able to decipher hieroglyphs thanks to a special chunk of rock and a determined Egyptologist. In 1799, a soldier digging a fort in Rosetta, Egypt found a large black stone with three different types of writing on it. The writing was a message about Ptolemy V, who was ruling Egypt at the time. Because the message was written during the time when the Greeks ruled Egypt, one of the three languages was Greek. The other two were demotic and hieroglyphic.
People realized that the three languages on “The Rosetta Stone” said the same thing. And even though people could read Greek, they couldn’t figure out how to match up Greek words with hieroglyphic words. For years no one was able to understand how the hieroglyphic message corresponded to the Greek one.
Finally, in 1822, a French Egyptologist named Jean François Champollion figured out how to decipher hieroglyphic writing. He realized that the hieroglyphs that spelled “Ptolemy” were enclosed in a cartouche, so he was able to match it up to the Greek spelling. This discovery enabled him to equate the unfamiliar hieroglyphs with familiar Greek words and to translate the entire message.