Scripts and Writings
A large stela introduces the subject of writing with its long biographical inscription translated for visitors line-by-line on a vertical glass plate. This element is used later on to explain the system behind the writing, its beginnings and inspiration as well as the different categories of hieroglyphs, all using original artefacts as a starting point.
Inscribed glass panels allow visitors to read the translations for the texts written on papyrus or ostracon on display in this case, so they can experience the full range of Egyptian texts for themselves right next to the original objects. In addition, the Media Guide offers translations of other objects along with an introduction to the different genres. English translations are pending.
The writing system is one of the formative aspects of Ancient Egyptian culture, a medium for literature and religion, an indispensable requirement for politics and economics as well as a decorative element in art. Texts can be found everywhere in Egyptian culture; almost anything can be inscribed. The Egyptian elite based their identity on literacy, giving them a sense of superiority over illiterate cultures such as those of their southern neighbours in Nubia.
From classical guided tours to YouTube videos, from hieroglyph lessons to podcasts – we offer a wide range of opportunities for interested people to educate themselves about Ancient Egypt. It is also possible to book guided tours and workshops for all age groups to supplement to the digital media available in the museum itself (MediaGuide and Media Stations). Special offers for the disabled have been a staple for many years. Additionally, the museum offers lectures and workshops on various subjects at regular intervals.
The Media Station offers a glimpse into the wide spectrum of Egyptian texts, divided into 3 subsections with about 25 themes each. Under “Literary Genres” visitors can access information on novels, fairy tales, love songs, Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts. Under “Texts” they can explore famous works such as Akhenaten’s Hymn to the Aten or the story of Sinuhe. Medicinal and astronomical texts can be found under the rubric “Specialist Literature”. Additionally, visitors can learn about the steps that led to deciphering the hieroglyphs.
The invention of writing is deeply entwined with the emergence of the Egyptian state. In the late Predynastic Period (ca. 3200 BC onward), local rulers started to expand their sphere of influence; with greater mobility (ships), the necessity of transporting data over greater distances, storing it over longer periods of time and making it available to more people emerged. The very first inscriptions were on storage jars and included information on the contents, a note about its origins and occasionally a mention of quantity.
Imhotep is a historical figure from the early Old Kingdom. He was the architect of the Step Pyramid of King Djoser in Sakkara and the “inventor” of building in stone. The oldest Wisdom Texts are attributed to him; later on, he would become the patron deity of scribes and physicians. High-ranking officials had themselves depicted writing or reading to display their knowledge and experience, but also their devotion and loyalty as public servants.