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).