Anyone into Egyptian Hieroglyphs?

So, I use to do translations when I was in college, for the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts of NYC. I spent a laborious amount of hours documenting and matching glyphs to Garner’s lists (they require the glyph codes, transliterations, as well as direct translations of the texts). With the advent of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb possibly being discovered (King Tutankhamun’s mother), I recently had the idea of making a semi-automated translation/preservation system; only requiring the translator to select the category in which a glyph presides, then selecting the glyph (ie Birds, Animals, People, etc)… The end result, not only doing all the translating, glyph encoding, and transliterations, but generating a digital copy of the document as well. Well, after adding thousands of pages worth of Egyptian vocabulary (over 240,000 words thus far…the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary only has 225,000 words :-)), writing a hieroglyphic engine (hieroglyphs are read ‘into’ the faces and go horizontal and vertical depending on certain symbols and can be written left to right, right to left, or top down (never down to up)), and creating the gylph fonts, has been quite a task. But, I can finally say that the dictionary portion is indeed working and the hieroglyphic generation, transliterations, as well as glyph encoding works awesome. I’ll be adding a quiz section for students of the egyptian arts, on top of the document translations to digital copy generation. The pronunciation portion will be interesting, as it will allow people to hear what it was like when Egyptian was actually spoken. Because of Coptic (ancient egyptian written with greek characters), and thanks to Jean-Franois Champollion (used the Rosetta stone to break the code), we have a pretty accurate methodology to revive the verbal phonetics of the ancient dead language.

Figured I’d share how awesome it is that Xojo can be used to revive and preserve a dead language for future generations.

If you’d like to take a peak at the dictionary only portion, venture over to:

“Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids.” -12 century Arab proverb

The favicon says “Son of Ra” (pronounced sa-ra) :slight_smile:

Please forgive me… but it sounds like you are inferring that in the 21st century, the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts of NYC still does these types of translations using pencil, paper and a codec… While you single-handedly created something that the Met did not (or did not have commissioned)? Because if this is true, there are Museums all around the world that would pay big money for this awesome never before realized acheivement…

This is awesome.

When I was reading the quoted above, I started to think at Japaneese (ince it can be read from all 4 directions), then asian “characters”, then Maya scripting system, then…

I think you have work on your plate !

And the result is … yes … awesome.

BTW: I recall an old Apple II software that had a special font (that hold hieroglyphs), back in mid 80s. Oh, and I do not know what that software was meant to do. I only recall the user manuals with printed hieroglyphs… (all “characters” were drawn using a 8 x 8 matrix).

At the MMFA we used a large set of books including Gardner’s compilation of glyphs, Budge’s (a ridiculously large, hard to browse dictionary in alphabetical order phonetically by symbol), and a few other sources. Unfortunately, there are a number of glyphs which look almost identical, but share minor variations, for which something like OCR would fail, and potentially mistranslate or use the wrong context of a word (look at Google Translate :-)) For instance there are over a dozen words alone for “Son”… you have one word for “son of”, “(royal) son”, “(eldest) son”, “(youngest) son”, and some words, although some phonetically the same, have entirely different glyphs and sometimes have the same meaning, sometimes different, all dependant upon the glyphs and determinatives involved. I’ve seen and tested some hieroglyphic software, but the character sets are all limited upto 800 of the 2396 characters actually used. So when doing translations, we were refrained from using digital software made by developers who’ve never actually worked in the field. That makes room for a vast margin of error and inefficiency. I think that it has wanted to manifest, although not many people have actually worked in the field, and are a software engineer as well. Sort of like a developer attempting to make an electrical engineering software suite, with only basic knowledge of electrical engineering; it won’t go very far, and professionals won’t trust it. So rather than having a translator physically lookup the words, the translator can input the actual glyphs by clicking on them merely by choosing the category of each glyph and sub category until the glyph is displayed, or by entering the glyph code. As the document is being entered, the transliteration and glyph codes will automatically be generated (each glyph has a specific code associated with it), and the words will be translated. From the translation, the translator can clean up any word arrangements (like in most latin based languages, the adjective falls before the noun “Blue house” becomes “house blue”). So I will see what I can come up with, then of course, can add to as needed. The methodology will be the same as we pretty much used for the MMFA, only simplified, allowing for faster translations, and no need to carry the 50 pounds of books around. I’d tried using digital copies of the books, but page flipping was still faster in my experience, and less frustrating. The method I intend to use nullifies the need for even page flipping, as all glyphs will be available with a simple point and click or by entering the code. So far it works pretty good. Now just to make it look “pretty” and possibly a mobile version as well. I intend to make it so user friendly, that someone with no knowledge of egyptian hieroglyphs could sit down and translate a mural or text within minutes. I’d love to make something similar for say the Mayan glyphs; but then again, I’ve never worked in that field, so could only contribute the workings of a debutant. Perhaps there is someone in that field who enjoys software development as much as myself. The bulk of the work is completed, now just to put all the little pieces together to make it all work. The dictionary alone has taken about 7 months to add the quarter million egyptian words with english translations, as well as parts of speech, coding, and glyph category codes. Because there are no fully accurate fonts, all glyphs are pure images which I’ve gathered. Some of the 2396 glyphs had to be hand drawn using vector software. But, they are all complete :slight_smile:

I’ll post updates as I go and make all the betas viewable to Xojo developers, along with some sample texts from around the web if anyone wants to test their hand at reading an ancient document. (I may add demotic eventually, as it’s merely the ‘cursive’ form of hieroglyphs)

You mean Gardiner’s Sign List, of course :wink: Not “Gardner”…

Yes Gardiner :slight_smile:

Bravo Zulu! A fine example of applying technology to a subject area crying out for it, and one in which nobody thought of doing it this way before. :slight_smile:


[Bravo Zulu is a naval signal, typically conveyed by flaghoist or voice radio, meaning “Well Done”]

“Anyone into Egyptian Hieroglyphs?”
Only when I forget to define encodings.

[quote=207652:@Tim Hare]“Anyone into Egyptian Hieroglyphs?”
Only when I forget to define encodings.[/quote]

Lol… that would be a prefect use of Unicode. Most languages only utilize 10% of the space Unicode supports. Not only could all 2396 characters be imported, but all 240,000+ words as a character code and still have room. Not sure how to go about using PNGs to build a TTF font. Perhaps @michel could chime in on that as I believe he is one of the top font gurus around here?

Best joke ever! Some of the glyphs that appear when forgetting to define encoding definitely leaves those what the heck moments. :slight_smile:

In fact my custom font contains about 1000 bangla glyphs plus a bunch of “latin” glyphs. Although I’m not a font designer, I composed them using FontForge, and the result is good enough for my needs. But coming to your question: FontForge can import PNGs, so I’m sure all the fontographer apps around support importing PNGs and other formats.

Fontographer can take paste from any graphic program an trace it into Bezier curves. It can also import Illustrator files.

Hieroglyphs have their on Unicode encoding :

It is far from a trivial task, though…