Meteo in France , in the neighberhood of Paris ) :

This site resumes an article wrote in November 2000 . It has been published in the review in french on the canadian site Egypte éternelle under the item Papyrus Express , on 5 december 2000 .

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  1. Introduction
  2. Lithography
  3. Bolds
  4. L'informatique
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliographic references


During a period of near 180 years, egyptology passed from "stone age" (mind lithograpy) to XXIth century age , that means to computer. This rapid evolution is particularly visible about tools which have been developed to rendered hieroglyphs in print , particularly for books and documents . This short article explains this recent hieroglyph history .



Shorter after the fateful date of 4 March 1832, that marks the death of Jean François Champollion, the father of the egyptology, Jacques Joseph Champollion had to face an other challenge : the publication of works of its brother Jean François. In the grammar publication or "Principes généraux de l'écriture sacrée égyptienne" which appeared in Paris in 1836, he used the process of publishing by lithography, so as to render hieroglyphic parts of the work. The process was not new. Already, the publication of the "Précis du système hiéroglyphique", published in Paris in 1824, used this technique of impression.

In 1842 , J.J.Champollion wrote in his preface of the Egyptian Dictionnary from his brother , in regards a hieroglyphic bolt : "the typographical execution presented enormous difficulties (...); but the enormous expenditure and inevitable slowness , more expensive (...), were shown apparent (page XXX) .

Already in these more modern times, the edition of the hieroglyphic texts posed problem.



Birch would have prepared Hieroglyphical Dictionnary with a dozen sheets and would have liked to use the lithography from William Allen and Co in 1837, but the project did not achive until the end. It will have to be waited until 1867 so that this author publishes a grammar and a dictionary .

Under the over viw of J.J Dubois and J.A. Letronne, since 1840 in Paris, the creation of a first bold for printing works started . It will be achieved in 1842 to 1852 under direction of Emmanuel de Rougé and will be engraved by Delfond and Ramé son . This bold will be found in "Imprimerie Nationale" ( old imperial Printing library ) , including 4140 steel drifts, and would be at the origin of that of the French Institute of Oriental archeology in Cairo (IFAO) . The last catalogue of the IFAO makes state of more than 7000 signs which are admirably published in 1983 per Sylvie Cauville, Didier Devauchelle and Jean Claude Grenier (a book of more than 500 pages).

After the Prussian expedition of Lepsius in Egypt, an another bold was created in Germany , baptized from the name of Theinhard , its engraver, and drawn by Ernst Weidenbach. It takes as a starting point the the texts of XXVIth dynasty. It comprised 1356 signs in 1875, passing to some 1572 signs in 1937 .

England recovered this fount, while since 1892, the firm Edgar Harrison and Sons of London had in possession approximately 1500 signs .

An another firm can be quoted, this time from Austria: it was the company Adolf Holzhausen, extremely famous before the First World War.

Of this German fount. another French fount done by the work from François Chabas. It was Jules Dejussieu who adapted from German, then was untertaken again by Louis Marceau and finally by Emile Bertrand . This fount will be repurchased by Protat’s printer from Macon . A part is currently preserved in Macon, the other part in the Museum of printing and bank in Lyon.

For Oxford and England it will be necessary to wait until 1927 and the grammar of Gardiner to see a new fount, under the drawing of the couple of Egyptologists Garies Davies. This fount was used also by the Belgians in their Egyptological Foundation Queen Elizabeth .

In spite of the significant progress carried out by the use of various the hieroglyphic bolds , the majority of the authors always make state of the enormous time that the typographical composition of hieroglyphic texts represents . To give a small idea of this situation , it was necessary for an advise typographer formed near a week to compose two pages of hieroglyphic texts, which confirms the fears expressed by J.J.Champollion last century .

The solution will come from computing .



In the last of 1960 's , Jan Buurman of the University of Utrecht composes on Phillips computer his first hieroglyphes and then develops a software which is called Glyph , written for the first time in ALGOL-60 then in FORTRAN 77 . Later L.h. Lesko uses a computer bold in "The Berkeley Late Egyptian Dictionary", in COMPUTER AND THE HUMANITIES 11 (1977) pages 139-145.

According to a report of the congress of the AFCET, written by A.Guenoche (CNRS) , we can learn that, towards the end of 1970, Hainsworth works on a hundred hiéroglyphes with a Tektronix table , joining two technologies : a video camera and the APPLE II computer . The program used then is written in BASIC Applesoft.

He tries out this approach at the time of the excavation campaign in 1980 on the texts of the pyramid of Pepi Ist . They win to reab thus 330 hieroglyphes . Then, he proposes to give himself a computerized program of typesetting , either by means of transliterations , or by means of the codes known as of Gardiner's , or by means of a system of numbers .

We can regard these three researchers ( Buurnan, Lesko and Hainsworth ) as being the precursors of the processing of hieroglyphes on computers .

In volume 2 of "L'ÉGYPTOLOGIE EN 1979" (CNRS, 1982), we find in the second volume the use of the computer to create a table of similarities and the parallelisms contained in the texts of the pyramids ( work completed by Claude Crozier-Brelot ) .

There is also the automatic processing of the Egyptian texts in hieroglyphes by Michael Hainsworth, a quotation of work of J.Buurman (which is based on the bolds from Gardiner ) , the article of A.H.J. Schimmelpenninck: " The composing of Hieroglyphic texts by means of a computor " in GÖTTINGER MISZELLEN 19 (1976) pages 7-15, while J . Lesko uses a bold stylized in his article " Brief Report one the Computer Printing Hieroglyphs " GÖTTINGER MISZELLEN 14 (1974), page 17, and refers to the method video camera + data-processing ( A.Guénoche and PH . Mathérat of CNRS and the L.i.s.h) based on the inscriptions of Pepi Ist .

In October 1983, pioneers composed by professors and students of seven different nationalities meet under the authorities of Fritz Hintze of Humboldt University of Berlin (GDR), on the topic : " Die Anwendung numerische Methoden bei der Erforschung der meroitische Kultur ", following in that the ideas of Dick van der Plas in INFORMATIQUE ET ÉGYPTOLOGIE 4, pages 44 to 56.

In April 1984 a second " Steinförder Archäologie " with 38 participants takes place of which Nigel Strudwick , Robert Vergneux , Nicolas Grimal and Dick van der Plas .

Michael Hainsworth organizes a first international meeting , and it is starting world-wide in June 1984 , with the Foundation Hugot of the College of France, first round-table on the Informatique et Égyptologie . The decisions and approaches are ratified in 1985 at the time of the Fourth congress of Egyptology held in Munich and placed under the sign of data processing with communications of Fritz Hintze and Wolfgang Schenkel . The principles of the Manual of coding for computer are then elaborate following a meeting of the joined together Committee with Horssen ( in the Netherlands ) .

July 4, 1986 in Leyde takes place the second table round, with articles of Jan Buurnam on the program Glyph , an article on hieroglyphes coding on computer by Hans Van den Berg ( with an example of a Hymn to Nile) , while Michael Hainswoth and Nicolas Grimal make state of a project of hieroglyphic paleography automated ( prototype constructed in Language C to be used on systems of the type Unix . We find there also the beginnings of Egyptian Coffin Texts Word Index , under the autority of Dirk van der Plas .

To write a sentence, without coding, we needed to enter the Gardiner codes one by one, which despite everything remained very difficult . Here is a quoted example :

@M17 G17 {D21/D37/N35} G43 A1 U36 {Z1/N35} {Z1/N35} {M23/X1} {L2/X1} ( N5 S29 {R4/X1 Q3} ) G17 {F4/D36} N35 {O49/X1 Z1} A1 @@

On the other hand, the introduction of coding simplified the operation seriously , giving rather :


Who said that it was complicated !

In 1988 the third edition of the Manual of coding appears which develops the rules completely Except error of my share , this system is now universally recognized .

There is personal bolds , like that used by James Allen in his last work: MIDDLE EGYPTIAN , AN INTRODUCTION TO THE LANGUAGE AND CULTURE OF HIEROGLYPHS . It acts of a font True-Type which he conceived himself , similar to Winglyph , but which allows to write on two lines instead of one . I can thanks J . A . Allen for his nice answer about this point .

The tools available and resulting from these rules must be quoted :

  • SOUS MAC :
    • S.E.C.H.A.T. ( Writting system for coptic and hieroglyphic texts on Apple Tool).
    • Mac Scribe from CCER .
    • AmonFont (see revue ANKH).
  • UNDER PC :
    • Winglyph from CCER.
    • Inscribe for Windows, Saqqara Technology, Oxford.
    • Tkesch from Serge Rosmorduc, data base with Glossaire and dictionnary.
  • For her edition of her "PETITE GRAMMAIRE DE L'ÉGYPTIEN HIEROGLYPHIQUE À L'USAGE DES DÉBUTANTS", Bernadette Menu had used a own bold from Johannes Müller . It was a computer files system with around 800 hieroglyphes and usable under ATARI with Signum2 texts . This programme is called Iqer .



    We can measure the course carried out in 178 years for the edition of the hieroglyphic texts, and with another asset, Internet. 2ßt promises to be profitable for the exchanges and comments on the texts.

    I believe on working group of Égypte Éternelle on the text of the Schripewecked sailors is a splendid illustration!


    Bibliography references

    • ANKH revue, n°1 (1992), Gif sur Yvette, 1992.
    • L'ÉGYPTOLOGIE EN 1979, tome 2 (CNRS).
    • DICTIONNAIRE ÉGYPTIEN, Champollion, édition Solin, mars 2000.
    • L'ÉGYPTE REDÉCOUVERTE, Autun, Bibliothèque Municipale 28 mai- 3 octobre 1998, page 95.
    • "Textes et Languages de l'Egypte pharaonique", HOMMAGE À JEAN FRANÇOIS CHAMPOLLION, IFAO Le Caire 1972.

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