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Digital database of the early inscriptions of Egypt

Principle investigator: Prof. Dr. Richard Bußmann
Researchers: Dr. Gunnar Sperveslage, Jacob Schneider, M.A.
Funded by: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften

The project seeks to establish a fresh foundation for research into the earliest inscriptions of Egypt. The ca. 10,000 inscriptions date to the formative period of the ancient Egyptian state, from the first hieroglyphic words to the beginning of the Old Kingdom (3,000-2,700 BC). They shed light on forms of royal representation and the social profile of emerging administrative elites. The decipherment of the inscriptions is still problematic impinging on their advanced historical and linguistic interpretation. In this project, the inscriptions are tranliterated, translated and incorporated in the online access database Theseaurus Linguae Aegyptiae run by the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. A wealth of meta data added to the inscriptoins is designed to facilitate an interpretation of the inscriptions in their material and archaeological context. At the interface of philology, archaeology and the digital humanities, the project aims to extend systematic research of the ancient Egyptian language from later periods back to the origins of the earliest inscribed objects, to develop new methods for digital recording, and facilitate advanced interpretation of existing and recently discovered inscriptions in Egypt.


  • Bussmann, Richard 2020. Civilization and Writing: A View from Early Egypt. In: International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA) and Centre for Chinese Archaeology of Peking University (eds.), Dialogue of Civilisations: A Comparison between Centres of Different World Civilisations, 181-219. Shanghai: Shanghai Ancient Books Press.