Logo of the Website

The logo of the website Science in Ancient Egypt

A very special hieroglyph served as a model for the logo of this website. It shows a seated man opening or reading a scroll (extended Gardiner Sign list A139A). It is used as a kind of interpretative sign to specify the meaning of the word; this class of signs is called a "determinative" or "classifier" in Egyptology. In the present case, the man with the scroll classifies the ancient Egyptian verb pgA pega (pgꜣ), "to unfold, to open up; to be open". Normally another sign is used as the classifier in this verb, a hieroglyph representing two outstretched or embracing arms: D32 (Gardiner Sign list D32); but if specifically the unrolling of a papyrus scroll is meant, this very seated man can be used instead.

An example of the use of this sign is found in a dedicatory inscription carved under Ramses II on the first pylon of Luxor. In this text, which has not survived in its entirety, the king reports on construction work that he will carry out for his divine father Amun-Re. The text most probably refers to the front extension of the Luxor temple with the first pylon and the adjoining portico. The relevant line of text reads:


Fig. 1: Composed photograph of the inscription on the pylon of Ramses II with the relevant part of the text.

"Then His Majesty searched the archive of the scriptures; as he unrolled the writings of the House of Life, he learned the secrets of heaven and all the mysteries of the earth; and he discovered that (...)".

The text depicts the king as a kind of scholar who goes to an archive or library to consult ancient writings. These writings are religious and scientific in nature and the knowledge they contain is considered secret.