Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Rated 5 out of 5 by from EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHS Only into Lecture/lesson 5. Prof. Briar is a great teacher. I can easily follow this so far. I enjoyed his course on the History of Ancient Egypt VERY MUCH. I have a fascination with Hieroglyphs. Have tried learn them on my own before and so some of the material is not new to me. Bob's course is well organized and that makes learning easier especially with backgeround for why some things are the way they are is explained.
Date published: 2020-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic course I enjoyed this course very much, and learned a lot in a short time. Professor Bob Brier's presentation was excellent.
Date published: 2020-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Egyptian Hieroglyphs... A Road to Understanding!!! I bought the original course with Dr. Bob Brier. I am only too happy to add this to my collection.
Date published: 2020-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from dynamic lecturer The subject matter is challenging, but well the worth the time you put into it. If you don't keep up with learning the new concepts and vocabulary, the course will quickly get past you and be of no use. One might think that the subject itself is pretty boring, but the lectures also include a lot of information about the history of ancient Egypt and its art. After all, writing doesn't occur in a vacuum. The lecturer is very interesting and engaging. I was quite challenged at the very end of the lectures when we were to translate texts from tombs and temples. I intend to go back through the grammar and vocabulary and give those texts another try. I was thrilled with this course!
Date published: 2020-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If you have the smallest interest - you WILL learn In Decoding Egyptian Hieroglyphs, you will learn the proper recognition of the symbols, their meaning, variants and proper ordering in order to read them in context on a basic level. From there you are given sources that are available from other sources to continue your studies. I have a need of this course to assist my research - and it has not disappointed - I have not completed the course as yet, in full but it has done so much to advance my work already. This will continue to be an on the job situation for me and ongoing. I am fortunate to have on hand some of Dr. Brier's reference materials list in my personal library.. And Dr. Brier's methodology is wonderful - his love for the subject comes through as you in each lesson - he invites you to love it as much as he does. I consider this one of the best ancient language courses I have ever taken, excepting Biblical Hebrew(!)... Five Stars, two thumbs up.
Date published: 2020-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Winner Dr. Brier has offered another fine course. He is one of my favorites. He is knowledgeable certainly. He is also likable. I always look forward to the next lesson.
Date published: 2020-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to learn I have wanted to learn to read Hieroglyphs for years. This course is engaging and informative. Dr. Brier does a great job of explaining the language and incorporating the history and background of ancient Egypt.
Date published: 2019-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! I enjoyed this dvd set immensely, and would love to see an Egyptian Hieroglyphs 2 dvd set which could continue along the same line as this one.
Date published: 2019-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative I wasn't sure what would be taught in this course. I wanted to know the history of hieroglyphs, how they were decoded and a little about how to read hieroglyphs. I think this course has a little bit of everything for everybody who is interested in hieroglyphs. Professor Brier is very knowledgeable and his presentation is pleasant to listen to. While I will never need to read hieroglyphs, I found it fascinating how and why the Egyptians created their written language. Professor Brier explains the hieroglyphic alphabet, which I didn't know existed, and the meaning of the glyphs, to represents ideas and objects. He even pronounces the letters, words, ideas, etc. of hieroglyphs. I thought the Rosetta Stone was the deciding method for interpreting hieroglyphs, but, it is more complicated than just using that one source. Professor Brier goes into detail as to how hieroglyphs were fully solved. There are problems to solve, if desired. I think if one took the time to learn all that is presented, you could read random hieroglyphs. Professor Brier admits that not all hieroglyphs are covered, but, there would be enough in this course that you will appreciate much which you may come into contact. I would recommend "Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs", not only for the information, but also to enjoy Professor Brier's lectures.
Date published: 2019-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding In my opinion Dr Brier is absolutely the best professor in all of the Great Courses. This is his 3rd course and as always he lectures in an entertaining, informative and down to earth manner. He makes Egyptian hieroglyphs understandable and approachable. Please have him continue this course with a volume II for those of us who want to learn more!!!!
Date published: 2019-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good title Very interesting overview of Egyptian hieroglyph history. Each lesson gives info as to glyph decipherment and writing, with practice and homework. Lots of illustrations. Can learn as much or little as one wants; info still very valuable as to how it all works.
Date published: 2019-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Probably the Best... ...of all the dozen or so Great Courses I have ever taken in the past twenty years ir so. Perfectly produced, paced, and delivered. I am on lecture 9 out if 24 and will be sad when it is over. Instructor is adept presenter and a joy to learn from.
Date published: 2019-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love the whole thing! Outstanding! I am currently only on lesson 2 of 24 lessons but I find the course stimulating and so far, easy to understand. It is also a lot of fun as well, which makes learning easy. This course is either the 21st or 22nd course which I have taken with Great Courses. They are all well planned and well executed.
Date published: 2019-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't download! Hi I'm very happy to enjoy the great courses especially with professor Bob Brier but I can't download it for offline use any one of the series. Can you help please.
Date published: 2019-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Happy Hieroglyphics I taught World History & World Cultures for 18 years & during the unit on Egypt I had a kit I could use to show my students how to write their names in hieroglyphics. It was a fun way to introduce them to the unit but I retired & left the kit with the new teacher. Now my daughter is teaching & I bought this course for her. (And maybe a little bit for me, too.). It’s an excellent course.
Date published: 2019-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love Dr Brier He is an enthusiastic lecturer, and clearly knows how to explain a challenging subject in an understandable manner. You have to do your homework and study between lectures to better master the content. This is a great entry course in middle Egyptian hieroglyphs that will allow you to better enjoy and understand Egyptian antiquities, and even read bits of them. Note that the professor uses a more phonetic English transliteration than the standardized Romanization that others use, but it wasn't hard to switch when I finished this course and moved to other material. That said, this course is only scratching the surface. Please add a part 2! Part 3!! Dr Brier is so much more fun than working through a text on my own.
Date published: 2019-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bob Brier hits the bull's eye ! The brilliant, inimitable Professor Bob Brier does it again ! In this course he presents the engaging and fascinating world of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Bob's style is friendly and fluent; he brings with him decades of knowledge and experience, in the field and in the classroom. Over the years, I have accumulated a nice little library of publications on Egyptology, have studied several courses in the old language of the Pharaohs, and can state, without question, that this is the finest course yet, and The Teaching Company must be congratulated on making it available to the public. The course is a superb and entertaining achievement by the affable Bob Brier. Recommended unhesitatingly. Go for it !!
Date published: 2019-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favorite Great Course. I have read about hieroglyphs off and on for years but could make no progress because I am not good at memorization, but I'm finding that Prof. Brier's method helps me by having me say the represented sounds, so some are sticking (only on lesson 10 so far). And the writing homework practice has made my jotting of the glyphs fairly easy. I don't expect to gain a scholar's accuracy or competence, just a casual familiarity, and for now I'm contented to skip over the more scholarly phonetic transcription methods -- I can fine tune that later if I accomplish this course. I rely on the printed manual as well as the downloaded pdf version for reviewing and homework. I also copy the text and pronunciation of sentences into a table in one column and then capture the hieroglyphs with a graphics program from a print screen for the adjacent column. So I can practice saying and translating the sentences again compiled on my printed sheets. The manual helps immeasurably, although I have found some errors for which I could compensate because of the lessons. The video is fine and I enjoy the production graphics as well as Brier's style and application of the Egyptian language in historical context. I love having the DVDs to play on the computer whenever life doesn't interrupt me as it did for about a year after I bought the course.
Date published: 2019-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from very happy with video. very disappointed with manual! Manual was so small I had to use a magnifying glass and still had trouble. Why not load the manual as a PDF on the DVD then I could run my own copy. Do you have the manual files for download? Ron Ross
Date published: 2019-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very instructive as well as entertaining At 64 years old, I thought this would be a fun course to take to help exercise my aging mind and give me something different to learn. Although I haven't completed the course yet, I have thoroughly enjoyed the material up to this point. I find the information fascinating and the instructor great a presenting the material. After the second lesson I already learned that the shirt I purchased in Egypt years ago with my name embroidered with hieroglyphs has my name spelled wrong! Doing the exercises at the end of the lessons is like doing a puzzle. When I finish the course I want to obtain additional books if necessary and start trying to translate some of the hieroglyphs from the pictures I took while in Egypt. In addition, this course will help one with his or her artistic skills when drawing the hieroglyphs to make sentences. I am really glad I purchased this course and this is one language that is fun to learn since you don't have to worry about speaking the language.
Date published: 2019-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very pleased with course content. I have enjoyed the course structure. The interaction with the course is very helpful. The progression of materials and historical asides serve to expand and reinforce learning. Prof. Bob Brier does an excellent presentation and course structure. It is rewarding to learn language from a milestone in human developement.
Date published: 2019-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Never thought I can achieve this Dr. Brier helped me to realize my teenage dream! After 9 months of diligently going through the course & the exercises, I can now read/recognize basic texts and temple inscriptions and write basic sentences. I was blown away with the accessibility and ease when introducing the alphabet & the grammar. Thank you, D.r Brier, from the bottom of my heart!
Date published: 2019-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Title attracts it is well organized and presented. Enclosed videos fit the presentation.
Date published: 2018-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun thing to learn I was wanting something to keep my brain cells activated, and this course is just the thing! The history part is fascinating but it's the learning how to read and write that provides the challenge. The pace is great, it takes me about 2 days between lessons to write things down, do the homework and absorb what I have learned. Maybe it's not the most useful thing to know, but sure is fun.
Date published: 2018-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Introduction to Hieroglyphs I have been working on this course for a while on the Amazon Great Courses channel and decided to purchase it. I am so glad I did. For anyone interested in learning hieroglyphs, this is a good starting place.
Date published: 2018-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent and fun! I love Dr. Briar’s approach; providing a history of the subject as background to the language lesson. This “dead language” has never been more alive to me!
Date published: 2018-08-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Egyptian Hieroglyphs sound effects annoy the stude This is an excellent course and is presented by Bob Brier, one of the greats of the teaching community. Unfortunately, The Teaching Company put many sound effects in the track and some excessive pictures which distract and annoy the student--me anyway. There is no way to turn them off and I think they are the product of the "service" economy---creating a job where there is no job. We are not children watching cartoon animations. This detracts from what the French call "the formation of the serious intellectual". .
Date published: 2018-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great way to learn meaning and use of hieroglyphs Nice course to accompany study of history of Ancient Egypt. Subject matter is presented clearly and progressively. Video makes drawing the glyphs and their proper sequence very clear. Instructor extremely knowledgeable and presents the material clearly.
Date published: 2018-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing teacher! Bob Brier really knows how to present a topic that could easily become dry and too complex on less capable hands. His delightful story telling abilities add wonderful context to each lesson and he clearly understands that a comfortable pace is crucial to the success of us, his students. My gratitude and appreciation to an extraordinary teacher.
Date published: 2018-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great fun! Dr. Brier has an engaging style that makes this arcane subject matter fun and unintimidating. The workbook is the best one of the Great Courses I've received in the past.
Date published: 2018-02-26
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Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs
Course Trailer
Why Egypt Needed Hieroglyphs
1: Why Egypt Needed Hieroglyphs

Before learning how to read and write hieroglyphs, you have to understand why ancient Egypt had to invent some form of writing. Central to this introductory lecture is a study of the Narmer Palette, whose writing would set standards and conventions that would be followed for 3,000 years.

33 min
The Ancient Egyptian Alphabet
2: The Ancient Egyptian Alphabet

It's time to learn the hieroglyphic alphabet. Professor Brier shows you how to write each hieroglyph and how to position them, including a stylized hand ("D"), a horned viper ("F"), and two hieroglyphs for which English doesn't have a letter. Then, transcribe your name from English to ancient Egyptian.

29 min
How a Language Becomes Lost
3: How a Language Becomes Lost

How is it possible for a language used by the world's greatest civilization to become lost? The answer, you'll learn, involves charting the rise and fall of ancient Egypt's spectacular kingdoms, as well as investigating the ways Christianity replaced hieroglyphs with Greek letters.

31 min
Napoleon in Egypt
4: Napoleon in Egypt

Explore how hieroglyphs, and the ability to read them, was rediscovered during Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Along the way, you'll consider the birth of Egyptology and the role of ushabtis, statues of servants buried with prominent Egyptians so they could avoid having to work in the next world.

32 min
Early Attempts to Decipher the Rosetta Stone
5: Early Attempts to Decipher the Rosetta Stone

With the discovery of the Rosetta Stone by the French, the process of deciphering hieroglyphs could begin. But early attempts were thrown off by what Professor Brier calls the "Big Mistake". Here, examine the reasons why so many scholars made the error of treating hieroglyphs like picture writing.

32 min
William Bankes and the Keys to Decipherment
6: William Bankes and the Keys to Decipherment

Learn how several key discoveries showed how to decipher hieroglyphs the right way, and also shaped our understanding of ancient Egypt. First: a bilingual obelisk that extended the Egyptian alphabet. Second: the "Hall of Ancients", which contained the longest list of pharaohs ever discovered.

31 min
Jean-François Champollion Cracks the Code
7: Jean-François Champollion Cracks the Code

Meet Jean- François Champollion, the first man in 2,000 years to read hieroglyphs and correct the "Big Mistake". After studying Champollion's vital contribution to the field, you'll spend time learning how to read and write biliterals: hieroglyphs that represent two sounds, one after the other.CHECK THIS RECORD

31 min
Suffix Pronouns and the Hieroglyphs of Ptah
8: Suffix Pronouns and the Hieroglyphs of Ptah

In the first half of this lecture, learn how to work with suffix pronouns (which, unlike in English, are the same for possessive and nominative). Then, discover what hieroglyphs reveal about the role of the creator god Ptah in Egyptian religion-and his close connection with writing and words.CHECK THIS RECORD

32 min
The Immortal Scribe
9: The Immortal Scribe

First, continue working on suffix pronouns with several English-to-hieroglyph sentence translations. Then, unpack the hidden meaning of the scarab beetle hieroglyph (kheper). Finally, learn about the scribes responsible for writing everything from cattle inventories to Books of the Dead, then learn about the medium on which they wrote, papyrus.

31 min
Hieroglyphs and the Bible
10: Hieroglyphs and the Bible

After giving you a few more pointers on suffix pronouns (including an unusual feature of the Middle Egyptian language), Professor Brier invites you to do a little applied hieroglyphs. How does a little knowledge of hieroglyphs help us answer some biblical questions about iconic events from the book of Exodus?...

31 min
Dependent Pronouns and the Passive Voice
11: Dependent Pronouns and the Passive Voice

Dependent pronouns, as you'll learn, don't have to be added onto any other word; they stand alone and are usually the object of the verb. From there, you'll consider the first expedition to copy hieroglyphs (epigraphy), and learn about a current program designed to save inscriptions on fragile temple walls.

31 min
Past Tense and Adjectives
12: Past Tense and Adjectives

Start working with the past tense in your hieroglyphic sentences (the secret involves tacking a water sign onto a verb). Then, expand your Egyptian vocabulary to include new biliterals, as well as adjectives like "evil" and "excellent." Also, learn how to use adjectives as modifiers, predicates, and nouns....

28 min
New Ideograms Related to the Gods
13: New Ideograms Related to the Gods

From suns and pillars to flagpoles and scepters, uncover what the hieroglyphs of gods reveal about ancient Egyptian thought and belief. For example, flagpoles were the ideogram for "god" (pronounced netcher) and ram-headed scepters (pronounced was) were representations of power inspired by the god Amun....

31 min
Names of the Pharaohs
14: Names of the Pharaohs

Learn how the kings of Egypt wrote their names. Using the Sneferu stela as a guide, examine the development of a pharaoh's five royal titles: the "Horus" name, the "King of Upper and Lower Egypt" name, the "Two Ladies" name, the "Golden Horus" name, and the "Son of Re" name....

32 min
Ancient Egyptian Numbers
15: Ancient Egyptian Numbers

Learn the Egyptian way of writing whole numbers and fractions, which were used to keep track of everything from taxes to dates when the Nile would rise. Also, visit the mortuary temple of Ramses III, where a pile of hands reveals how many enemy soldiers were killed in battle....

31 min
The Egyptian Calendar
16: The Egyptian Calendar

Explore why the calendar was crucial to Egypt's success as a nation, and learn how the civilization divided a year into months and seasons based on the activity of the Nile River. Then, find out how Egyptologists use ancient Egyptian calendars to pinpoint dates....

29 min
Names of the Gods
17: Names of the Gods

By understanding hieroglyphic names of gods and goddesses, you can read the stories told on temple walls. Among the pantheon of deities you'll learn to recognize are Isis and Osiris, Atum (the first terrestrial god), and the earth and sky gods Geb and Nut....

31 min
Negation in Ancient Egyptian Sentences
18: Negation in Ancient Egyptian Sentences

How do you say "no" in ancient Egyptian? The answer, it turns out, involves knowing how to use (and draw) your arms. After practicing your skills at negation, you'll follow Professor Brier on a study tour of amulets (for both the dead and living) as "three-dimensional" hieroglyphs....

33 min
Reading Hieroglyphic Jewelry
19: Reading Hieroglyphic Jewelry

With your newfound knowledge of hieroglyphs, decipher what several pieces of exquisite ancient jewelry say - and why they're more than just pretty, decorative baubles. The jewels you examine include a pectoral worn by Queen Meret (used as political propaganda) and one worn by Princess Sat-Hathor (used for protection).

31 min
Palimpsests: When Scribes Make Mistakes
20: Palimpsests: When Scribes Make Mistakes

What happens when a scribe makes a mistake-especially when the hieroglyph is carved in stone? How do modern archaeologists know how to recognize errors? Using inscriptions on the Pyramid of Unas and at Abydos Temple, explore the topic of palimpsests, the writing of one text over another....

32 min
An Ancient Egyptian Prayer for the Dead
21: An Ancient Egyptian Prayer for the Dead

Enter the temples and tombs of the ancient Egyptians and explore some of the fascinating hieroglyphic prayers inscribed on their walls. Central to this lecture is a standard prayer for the dead that started in the Old Kingdom: the Hotep-di-nesu, which asked the king to grant an offering to Osiris....

33 min
Translating the Tomb of Perneb
22: Translating the Tomb of Perneb

Join Professor Brier for an in-depth tour of the Tomb of Perneb's hieroglyphs-specifically those in its chapel, or mastaba. What lies behind the "false door" common to chapels like this? Why were ka-priests so important to the afterlife of the wealthy?...

32 min
Translating Tutankhamen's Tomb
23: Translating Tutankhamen's Tomb

In the first of two lectures on the most famous find in all archaeology, learn the story of the excavation of King Tut's tomb. Then, translate some of the inscriptions on the gilded shrines in the Egyptian ruler's burial chamber (among them: messages by carpenters for use in construction)....

31 min
King Tut's Magic Mirror and Sarcophagus
24: King Tut's Magic Mirror and Sarcophagus

Decode and understand the inscriptions on two astonishing artifacts: a magic mirror used during Tutankhamen's lifetime and the lid of the pharaoh's sarcophagus. Then, conclude the course with suggestions on how to continue studying hieroglyphs, including scholarly resources and translation tips....

34 min
Bob Brier

To a great extent, the fun of history is in the details. Knowing what kind of wine Tutankhamen preferred makes him come alive.


The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Long Island University

About Bob Brier

Dr. Bob Brier is an Egyptologist and Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. He earned his bachelor's degree from Hunter College and Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professor Brier has twice been selected as a Fulbright Scholar and has received Long Island University's David Newton Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of his achievements as a lecturer. He has served as Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities' Egyptology Today program. In 1994, Dr. Brier became the first person in 2,000 years to mummify a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian style. This research was the subject of a National Geographic television special, Mr. Mummy. Dr. Brier is also the host of The Learning Channel's series The Great Egyptians. Professor Brier is the author of Ancient Egyptian Magic (1980), Egyptian Mummies (1994), Encyclopedia of Mummies (1998), The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story (1998), Daily Life in Ancient Egypt (1999), and numerous scholarly articles.

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