H ieroglyphic Egyptian looks simple-after all, it is made entirely of pictures.
But it is a complicated and difficult way of writing. Some of the “pictures” are
symbols that work like our alphabet does, with a slight difference: in the al-
phabet, each sign stands for a consonant or a vowel; in the Egyptian “pseudoalpha-
bet,” each sign stands for a consonant and also an indeterminate vowel. The
pseudoalphabet is short, and easy to memorize (Fig. 8.1). There are three birds (the
Egyptian vulture, the owl, and the quail chick), two snakes (the horned viper and
the ordinary snake), and three body parts (the forearm, the mouth just above it, and
the foot). Most of the other signs are household objects (a wooden or wicker stool, a
basket, a jar, and so on).