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Wörterbuch der Aegyptischen Sprache (of Doom!)


On Thursdays from 8 AM-12 PM, the five undergraduates studying Egyptology at Johns Hopkins would gather in the Near Eastern Studies room—nicknamed “the Fish Bowl”—of Gilman Library’s basement for four rollicking hours of uninterrupted Middle Egyptian text reading. Presented here, in a fairly regular manner, will be some of my favorites from that class.


When people discover that I was an Egyptology major in college, they ask me why I didn’t continue my formal studies of ancient Egypt. After explaining my solid conviction that I have no desire to spend the rest of my days alternating between the basement of a library and the 115 degree heat of the Giza Plateau, I then add, “Besides which, I never learned German.” Most think this is a joke. It isn’t.

It was largely assumed, when one entered the graduate text reading classes, that the student was fluent in German. Discussions usually drifted – oftentimes mid-sentence – into unser Verstandis der Koenigslexicon, und sein Verhaltnis zur der grosser Priesten. This is because those who enter the (insanely rigorous) German academic system not only have to earn a Doctorate, they also have to earn a Professorship – a process that can often take many, many years, most of this time being spent on insanely specific and/or thorough investigations of pretty much any aspect of ancient life one could imagine (I once came across a dictionary of Egyptian nautical terms). Thus, most of the good scholarship in Egyptology comes from Germany. Continue reading

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