One of the striking things about the hieroglyphic script is that each sign can be made into a work of art in its own right. This is single sign from a longer text, it’s a quail chick hieroglyph, which we transliterate with the letter “w” and it would be pronounced “oo”.

It’s roughly 10cm from beak to feet, and the artist has spent some time making it as good as he can. It’s incised into the limestone in sunk relief, then extra details have been carved into the overall form like the wings. And finally it’s been painted in multiple colours.

And each hieroglyph in the text has been treated to the same sort of care, the whole thing must’ve been stunning. It’s possibly from the tomb of Montuemhat, who was Mayor of Thebes when it was sacked by the Assyrians in 663BCE and was in charge of rebuilding it afterwards.

A Single Hieroglyph from a Text. Possibly from the tomb of Montuemhat at Thebes. End of Third Intermediate Period – beginning of Late Period, late Dynasty 25 – early Dynasty 26, c. 670-650 BCE. Acc. No.s: 60.131.2

It’s in the Brooklyn Museum, acc. no.: 60.131.1

See it on my photo site: and go left for a wider view of the two fragments of text in the museum.

Jigsaw puzzles:

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