This version of the course guide is provisional until the period for editing the new course guides ends.

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Language and Culture in Ancient Egypt

Code: 104219 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2503702 Ancient Studies OT 4 0


Marc Orriols Llonch

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
catalan (cat)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


There are no prerequisites.

Objectives and Contextualisation

The general objectives of the subject are that the student:

1) Know the different writing systems that were used in Egypt over time.

2) Deepen his/her knowledge of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing: decipherment and functioning.

3) Learn the grammar of Middle Egyptian and be able to read fragments of basic literary and epigraphic texts.

4) Know the written production of ancient Egypt, especially literary and religious, in its historical and cultural context.


  • Be able to express oneself orally and in writing in the specific language of history, archaeology and philology, both in one's own languages and a third language.
  • Extract and interpret data from texts written in an ancient language in different formats applying knowledge of the auxiliary sciences of history (epigraphy, numismatics, codicology, palaeography, etc.).
  • Students must develop the necessary learning skills to undertake further training with a high degree of autonomy.
  • Understand and interpret the evolution of ancient societies in the Mediterranean from Egyptian civilisation to the disbanding of Western imperial Rome through analysis of the political, historical, social, economic and linguistic factors.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the main historical and social features of the Egyptian, Sumerian, Acadian, Persian and Mycenaean cultures.
  2. Draw historical-social conclusions based on a reading of simple documents written in the ancient non-Indo-European languages.
  3. Preparing an oral and written discourse in the corresponding language in a proper and organized way.
  4. Submitting works in accordance with both individual and small group demands and personal styles.


1. The Egyptian language: origins and history.

2. Egyptian scripts: hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic and coptic.

3. Champollion and the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphic script.

4. Ancient Egyptian religious texts in their historical and cultural context: from the Pyramid Texts to the Book of the Dead.

5. Egyptian literature in its historical and cultural context: narrative, poetry, and sapiential texts.

6. Introduction to Egyptian hieroglyphic writing: signs and reading.

7. Introduction to Middle Egyptian grammar: elements of morphosyntax.

8. Translation and commentary of fragments of basic literary and epigraphic texts.


The subject involves three types of formative activities:

1) Directed activities: theoretical and practical classes and exams.

2) Supervised activities: activities of translation, grammatical analysis, and commentary of texts in groups of 2 or 3 students, and possible presentations and thematic seminars in class.

3) Autonomous activities: study, readings, completion of exercises and courseworks, preparation of speeches and presentations in class, preparation for exams.

Important: The teaching methodology and the evaluation proposed in the guide may undergo some modification subject to the onsite teaching restrictions imposed by health authorities.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Exams 4 0.16 2, 1, 3, 4
Practical classes on reading, translation, and analysis of texts 20 0.8 2, 1, 3, 4
Theoretical classes with the support of ICT 20 0.8 2, 1, 3, 4
Type: Supervised      
Group works, presentations, and seminars in class 21 0.84 2, 1, 3, 4
Type: Autonomous      
Personal study and work by the student 60 2.4 2, 1, 3, 4


The evaluation will consist of three types of activities:

1) Two exams, one at the end of November and one in mid-January.

2) Three short works: two on reading and analysis of Middle Egyptian texts in hieroglyphic script and one on literature.

3) Class participation and presentations.

In the event that some of these activities cannot be taken onsite for sanitary reasons, they will be adapted to an online format made available through the UAB’s virtual tools (original weighting will be maintained). Homework, activities and class participation will be carried out through forums, wikis and/or discussion on Teams, etc. Lecturers will ensure that students are able to access these virtual tools, or will offer them feasible alternatives.

As regards the procedure for the review of qualifications, on carrying out each evaluation activity, lecturers will inform students (on Moodle) of the procedures to be followed for reviewing all grades awarded, and the date on which such a review will take place.

As far as the make-up process is concerned, only the exams can be made up, on the date set by the Faculty. There will be three options: to make up only the first exam; to make up only the second exam; to make up both exams together in a single exam.

Students will obtain a Not assessed/Not submitted course grade unless they have submitted more than 30% of the assessment items.

In the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the student will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of any disciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Classroom interventions 10% 0 0 2, 1, 3, 4
First exam 20% 2 0.08 2, 1, 3, 4
Group works with eventual presentation in class 40% 21 0.84 2, 1, 3, 4
Second exam 30% 2 0.08 2, 1, 3, 4



Adkins, L.; Adkins, R. 2000. The Keys of Egypt. The Race to Read the Hieroglyphs. London: Harper-Collins (Spanish transl. 2000. Las claves de Egipto. La carrera por leer los jeroglíficos. Madrid: Debate).

Allen, J.P. 2015. Middle Egyptian Literature. Eight Literary Works of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cervelló Autuori, J. 20162Escrituras, lengua y cultura en el antiguo Egipto (El Espejo y la Lámpara 11). Bellaterra: Publicacions de la UAB.

Galán, J.M. 1998. Cuatro viajes en la literatura del antiguo Egipto. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.

Lloyd, A.B. (ed.) 2010. A Companion to Ancient Egypt. 2 vols. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Part V: Language and Literature. Vol. II: 639-778.

López, J. 2005. Cuentos y fábulas del antiguo Egipto (Pliegos de Oriente 9). Madrid-Barcelona: Trotta-Publicacions i edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona.

Loprieno, A. 1996. Ancient Egyptian Literature. History and Forms (Probleme der Ägyptologie 10). Leiden: E.J. Brill.

Parkinson, R.B. 1991. Voices from Ancient Egypt. An Anthology of Middle Kingdom Writings. London: British Museum Press.

Parkinson, R.B. 1997. The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems. 1940-1640 BC. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Parkinson, R.B. 1999. Cracking Codes: The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment. Berkeley-Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Parkinson, R.B. 2002. Poetry and Culture in Middle Kingdom Egypt. A Dark Side to Perfection. London-New York: Continuum.


Allen, J.P. 20001, 20143Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Collier, M.; Manley, B. 1998. How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. London: The British Museum Press (Spanish transl. 2000. Introducción a los jeroglíficos egipcios. Madrid: Alianza).

Manley, B. 2012. Egyptian Hieroglyphs for Complete Beginners. London: Thames & Hudson.


Faulkner, R.O. 1962. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian. Oxford: Griffith Institute.

Hannig, R. 19971, 20064Die Sprache der Pharaonen. Groes Handwörterbuch Ägyptisch-Deutsch (2800-950 v.Chr.) (Kulturgeschichte der Antiken Welt 64). Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.

Thesaurus Lingua Aegyptia.

Vocabulaire de l'Égyptien Ancien (VÉgA).:


JSesh, software for writing hieroglyphs.
It can be downloaded free of charge from: