2023-2024 / LLOR0020-2

Egyptian 1*


60h Th

Number of credits

 Bachelor in ancient and modern languages and literatures10 crédits 
 Bachelor in ancient languages and literatures : classics10 crédits 
 Bachelor in information and communication10 crédits 
 Bachelor in modern languages and literatures : German, Dutch and English10 crédits 
 Bachelor in history of art and archaeology : general10 crédits 
 Bachelor in history10 crédits 
 Bachelor in modern languages and literatures : general10 crédits 
 Bachelor in history of art and archaeology : musicology10 crédits 
 Bachelor in ancient languages and literatures : Oriental studies (Registrations are closed)10 crédits 
 Bachelor in philosophy10 crédits 
 Bachelor in French and Romance languages and literatures : general10 crédits 
 Master in history of art and archaeology : general (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in linguistics (120 ECTS)10 crédits 
 Master in modern languages and literatures : general (120 ECTS)10 crédits 
 Master in ancient languages and literatures : Oriental studies (120 ECTS)10 crédits 
 Master in ancient languages and literatures : Oriental studies (60 ECTS)10 crédits 


Stéphane Polis

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

All year long, with partial in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Learning to read Egyptian hieroglyphic texts.

The course is divided into two parts:

- during the first term, students follow a MOOC entitled "Les hiéroglyphes égyptiens" (https://www.fun-mooc.fr/fr/cours/les-hieroglyphes-egyptiens/). The face-to-face course operates on the principle of the flipped classroom: it is devoted to practical exercises linked to the contents presented in the weekly module of the MOOC.

- The second term introduces the different types of propositions in Ancient Egyptian and describes the non-verbal constructions (substantival, adjectival and adverbial predicatiosn). We then move on to the reading of the first hieroglyphic texts, with exercises based on authentic monuments.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

Encyclopaedic background concerning the Pharaonic culture:

  • Champollion and the decipherment of hieroglyphs
  • geographical and historical
  • the scripts of ancient Egypt
Hieroglyphic writing:

  • the hieroglyphic system: basic principles
  • the hieroglyphic repertoire and its relationship to images
  • transcribing, transliterating and encoding hieroglyphs
  • phonograms (uniliteral, biliteral, triliteral)
  • logograms
  • semantic and phonetic classifiers
  • radicograms
Egyptian language:

  • nominal morphology
  • non-verbal syntax
  • outline of the verbal system
Reading ancient sources:

  • royal cartouches
  • first stelae

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

A good knowledge of his/her native language.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

- Flipped classroom during the first term.

- Visit to an Egyptian collection and reading of texts in context during the second term.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

60 hours (1st and 2nd quadrimestres)
Place and schedule : to be precised at the beginning of the academic year

Recommended or required readings

Required reading:

  • St. Polis (dir.), Guide des écritures de l'Égypte ancienne, GIFAO 2, Le Caire, Ifao, 2022.
Recommended reading:

  • J. Winand, Les hiéroglyphes égyptiens, Que sais-je n° 3980, Paris, PUF, 2013.
  • J. Winand & A. Stella, Lexique du Moyen égyptien, Aegyptica Leodiensia 8, Liège, Presses de l'ULiège, 2013.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions ) AND oral exam

Additional information:

Written and oral exam in May/June.

The mark of the midterm exam in January will count for 30% of the June final grade.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

During the second term, we will plan a visit to an Egyptological collection in order to take your first steps in reading hieroglyphic texts on original documents.


Prof. Stéphane Polis (s.polis@uliege.be)

Département des Sciences de l'Antiquité
Place du 20 Août, 7, B-4000-Liège

Tél. 04 366 55 44

Association of one or more MOOCs

The MOOC entitled 'Egyptologie (P4)' is associated with this course.

Additional information:


At the end of this course, which is based on the presentation of many original ancient sources, you will:

  • know how Champollion succeeded in deciphering hieroglyphic writing
  • understand the main principles of the hieroglyphic writing system
  • recognize the main scripts used in ancient Egypt
  • be able to read and write the most common hieroglyphs
  • understand how Egyptologists determine the correct reading for each sign
  • get to grips with reading Egyptian documents on your own

The course is divided into 10 modules, themselves subdivided into several sequences. In each sequence, experts guide you through the discovery of epigraphic documents and explain how to approach the reading of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The videos are enriched by numerous animations, interactive maps, interviews and various quizzes. This MOOC will also take you on a tour of several European museums, to give you a better understanding of the materiality of the texts analyzed.


After an introduction to the course, Module 1 presents the conditions under which Champollion deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs. Module 2 provides chronological and geographical backgrounds, enabling the learner to contextualize in time and space all the examples used during the course. Module 3 introduces the main principles of hieroglyphic writing and outlines its evolution over more than three millennia. In Module 4, the learner is introduced to Egyptian cursive scripts, i.e. hieratic and demotic, as well as to Coptic, the last script used to record the language of the Pharaohs. Module 5 is devoted to this language, detailing its main phases and situating it within its linguistic family.

Modules 6 to 8 deal with the practical aspects of learning hieroglyphic signs. Module 6 teaches how Egyptian sounds are read and written, presenting the main phonograms and how to transliterate and encode them on a computeur. Module 7 shows how these interact in a complex script with logograms (which express both sound and meaning) and semantic classifiers (or determinatives, which express meaning but not sound). Module 8 goes a step further, tackling the question of signs that function as radicograms and phonetic classifiers.

By the end of the course, you will be able to read more complex hieroglyphic sequences in Module 9, such as those found in royal cartouches. You will also be able to take a virtual plunge into the tomb of Amenemope at Deir el-Medineh, and to perform in Module 10 an inovative task of reading hieroglyphic texts on the walls of an unpublished Egyptian tomb.