What are hieroglyphics?

A hieroglyphic is a kind of writing that uses pictures instead of words!

The word itself comes from a Greek word that means “sacred carving,” and it was used to talk about the carvings in Egyptian pyramids and monuments. If you look at pictures of Egyptian temples, you will often see the walls covered with pictures of animals and other objects. It’s actually a type of writing!

Sometimes the word hieroglyph is used to talk about other cultures’ picture writing besides the Egyptians. You might hear someone use it to talk about the carvings of the Mayans, Incans, or the people who lived on Easter Island.

A lot of times, hieroglyphs are hard to understand because sometimes a picture might not mean the thing that it’s a picture of! A hieroglyph that looks like a bell might actually mean “hill.” Scientists often have a hard time translating them, and many hieroglyph meanings are still unknown!

(by Mya Kagan)


A Picture Is Worth _____ Words!

Can you write a sentence using just pictures? Some one might write “I love you” by drawing an eye, and then a heart, and then a big “U”. Get creative! How else could you say, “I love you” with pictures? Instead of an eye, you could draw a picture of your face. Instead of the letter “U”, you could draw the person you are talking to, or an arrow to point at them.

How many different ways are there to say the same thing with pictures? Why do you think scientists sometimes have a tough time figuring out what hieroglyphics mean?