Ancient Egyptian Calligraphy: A Beginner's Guide to Writing Hieroglyphs, by Henry George Fischer

This 1999 edition, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has helped me to improve my skill in both reading and writing hieroglyphic texts, and I hope others may find it useful as well.


A very focused book, dominated by a list of many hieroglyphs ordered by their Gardiner sign, accompanied with rich details about each one.

Each sign discussed comes with large scale drawings of examples, or the items they are supposed to represent. Step-by-step demonstrations of how to draw a simplified, but recognisable version of each glyph are provided, suitable for transcribing by hand with pen, pencil or brush.

Some of the tips and tricks are invaluable, and have helped me to write some of the more difficult shapes, faster and more legibly, especially in situations where precision and quality is not required - e.g. personal notes.

Some details are provided about use of colour, patterns and stylistic choices, as well as where historical examples of the hieroglyphs can be found. For most signs there is discussion of evolution across time. This has been particularly useful for interpreting Old Kingdom and Early Dynastic inscriptions where the forms or colouring conventions changed considerably throughout history.

(PDF link removed)

Here is an example of a page with some of the more well known hieroglyphs.

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Em hotep děkuji zsa zdilení , hodně mě to pomuže k psaní glyfu senebty Tashepsytamun

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@Sem Can you edit out that link to the PDF book please? For a book still in print it is unlikely in the public domain and therefore would be quite wrong to have a PDF out. Thanks

sure. apologies. thank you for the instruction, i had mistakenly assumed it was fine given the source… but this was poor thinking on my part.

(EDIT: done.)

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I just had a look, and I’m not sure its still in print.

I was fortunate to get my copy for £40 a short while ago… it seems most copies are now going for £100-£200 now!

I am grateful for it for sure… I certainly would think twice before handing over £100 for one book.

When at all possible including as much bio details such as title, publisher, dates etc will help anyone find suitable resources. Thanks.