it comes to Egyptology, there are two kinds of knowledge: knowledge of
Hieroglyphs as filtered through western eyes, and knowledge based in truths.
former is the kind we call knowledge by acquaintance. For nearly all of
our acquaintance of Egypt and its civilization, involve names and/or terms
like Horus, Isis, Osiris, pyramids, sphinx, Hieroglyphs.
artifacts, are depicted as if they were born from an Aegean world, rather
than their actual origin in Egypt.
not an exaggeration to say that most of our understanding of ancient Egyptian
civilization has been conditioned by what we have been taught as the gospel
truth from ancient Greece. Hence, the entire field of Egyptology
is filled with improperly named things and interpretations which had nothing
to do with Egypt. These assumptions often lead to frequent misinterpretations.
As a result, we end up living in a world of illusion and learning fantasies
as a substitute for truth.
for example the following convoluted distortions:
as in the case of Arabic and other Semitic languages, vowels in ancient
Egyptian were not written. Therefore, we have no idea as to the exact
pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian words. However, despite this obvious
handicap, in order to accommodate western readers, Egyptologists today
use a simplified pronunciation in which a short arbitrary vowel is inserted
where needed to make a word pronounceable. Even though, this was obviously
not the way ancient Egyptians pronounced words.
original ancient Egyptian names and terms mirrored the world they meant
to describe. Without any doubt, they accurately reflected the mental mind
of our ancestors. When we misname them, we fail to consider their true
meaning. As a result, we end up dealing with them as if they were something
other than what they really were.
was only the first step on the road of further lexical distortions which
was compounded by the practice of inappropriate transliteration.
more serious controversy is the Western approach of adopting the
left to right method which runs opposite to the direction of the
Ancient Egyptian writing from right to left.
hieroglyphs were written from right to left (with the birds, mammals, and
people facing to the right - see quadrant 2b below). The signs that
represent persons, animals, and birds, as well as other signs that have
fronts and backs, almost always face the beginning of the inscription in
which they occur, so that the direction in which this is to be read is
but rarely in doubt.
OF WRITING ON GROUNDS OF PRACTICAL CONVENIENCE!
hieroglyphic texts in Western works are all written from left to right
so that they can be more readily translated into English (or some other
Western language), and so they can fit appropriately into any western context.
See Sir Alan Hendersen Gardiner's*
inscriptions consist of rows of miniature pictures arranged in vertical
columns or horizontal lines. These columns or lines, as well as the individual
signs within them, read usually from right to left, but more seldom, and
then only for special reasons, from left to right. In spite of the preference
shown by the Egyptians for the direction from right to left, that from
left to right has been adopted in modern printed books on grounds of
this dilemma in a more palatable way for modern Egyptians who speak Arabic
and are accustomed to writing from right to left, the following is meant
to illustrate how westerners applying the "left to right" script
direction would distort the Arabic script, to make it more readable to
a western speaking audience. An example of this distortion would look like
quadrant 1A (left) below, instead of the correct way as seen in
equivalent of this distortion would be if Arabic speakers were to write
English words from right to left. See
2A Shows the name
of Ptolemy as it appears on the Rosetta stone.
2B quadrant shows
how, by adopting this approach in depicting the ancient Egyptian
script, an Arab speaking would write the word Ptolemy. Written from
right to left, it would appear in reverse
3A quadrant depicts
the way western dictionaries of ancient Egyptian look today. The
script is from left to right running the opposite direction of the ancient
Egyptian script, while
3B quadrant- Points
to the correct direction of an ancient Egyptian script, as it would appear
on a monument or in a document.
consequences of Westerners adopting the left to right direction "on
grounds of practical convenience," versus the Ancient Egyptian
way has had controversial results which have never been contemplated nor
properly investigated by the scientific community.
well agreed that deciphering Ancient Egyptian language is arrived
at by inference. It should also be remembered that the Coptic language
is the primary source in this process, seconded only by the Classical
Arabic and other Semitic languages considered to be as sister
languages as well. However, despite these considerations, the following
examples are "make believe" terms born from the confusing and convoluted
Western method of reversing the direction of A.E. writing .
The term "shem"
is thought by Westerners to be, the A.E. word for "march, walk,
and go". This has been arrived at by inference through the Coptic
word "sher" with the same range of meanings. Unfortunately,
is not a Coptic word which refers to walking and could therefore be the
basis for a sound inference. Also, the Coptic word "sher"
is none other than the cognate term for the Arabic
In reality, the actual Coptic word for walking is meshor
which is a cognate to the Arabic msha. By inference, the
Ancient Egyptian word for walking is msha, exactly like the
Clearly this is a situation in which the placement of the letters of the
word were reversed to conform to the Western style of left to right (see
the diagram below).
An identical situation is found in the controversial
term for "weep" which has being wrongly identified as "aakb".
Actually the correct term is literaly the reversed form "bkaa", cf.
Arabic "bka" to weep. In the light of this discovery the inference
to the Coptic "okm" is no more valid.
these samples of gross distortions one can only begin to guess the magnitude
of similar false interpertations which abound in Egyptology.
the Ancient Egyptians called "their" writing, mistakenly identified
by the West under the misnomer "Hieroglyphs."
early enthusiast of ancient Egyptian history and language, he came under
the influence of Wallis Budge (Keeper of the Dept. of Egyptian and Assyrian
antiquities, British Museum) at the age of 15. He went on to study under
Gaston Maspero in the Sorbonne, and then went to Oxford. He had published
several articles before the age of 20, and later was one of the founding
scholars of the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology (JEA). His steady stream
of publications brought recognition from Germany, and he was invited to
be a sub-editor of the Worterbuch, where he met Erman and K. Sethe.
He was appointed
as Reader in Egyptology at Manchester University (1914-18) but did not
like teaching, and never again took up a teaching post. He was able to
continue his academic pursuits (at his home in Holland Park) because he
was fortunate to come from a wealthy family. From his home, he gave weekly
classes in egyptian to those whom he thought would benefit (R.O. Faulkner
was one such student).
editor of the JEA, he took Battiscombe Gunn as his assistant. Gunn was
a brilliant young scholar and their discussions spurred them on to produce
some of the most important works in modern egyptology: Gardiner his "Egyptian
Grammar" and Gunn his "Studies in Egyptian Syntax". Unfortunately Gunn
devoted his later years to teaching and published relatively little.
maintained a busy schedule and went on to publish numerous papers, acted
in most capacities of the EES (Chairman, Vice-President, President), and
helped many aspiring egyptologists. His most important monument is his
'Egyptian Grammar' and remains famous amongst egyptologists throughout
the english-speaking world.
from a stroke in his 85th year, but had been sick for some time before
this. The picture above was taken when he was 70, and still in good health.
At that time (1949) he had the following distinctions, offices and affiliations.
Part two, click below
© Ishinan 2005