Egyptologists devise a new Leiden transcription for hieroglyphs

| Leiden Convention Bureau

On August 6, the 13th International Congress of Egyptologists took place in Leiden. The conference welcomed 850 Egyptologists from around the world with the aim of sharing research findings in the field. Additionally, this conference served as an opportunity for Professor Olaf Kaper to explore the possibility of establishing a unified transliteration for Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Egyptologists from all over the world have traditionally employed their own methods when transcribing Egyptian hieroglyphs. The use of individual translations of Egyptian hieroglyphs has resulted in the creation of various databases with differing transcriptions. Professor Olaf Kaper, from Leiden, proposed the need for a collective agreement to achieve a single uniform transliteration. The underlying reason for this was the absence of a standardized transliteration for Egyptian hieroglyphs for over a century. In room 148 of the Lipsius Building at Leiden University, 15 linguists from various countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Egypt, convened to establish agreements for the transliteration of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

In general, Egyptologists seek to convert hieroglyphic characters into words or expressions to assign their own meaning or interpretation. However, Egyptian hieroglyphs consist only of consonants and lack vowels. The inclusion of vowels makes it easier to form complete words and look them up in a dictionary.

This consultation was preceded by extensive research by all attendees, and after an hour and a half, each had contributed to and implemented aspects of their own systems. Following the meeting, the results were shared at the concluding assembly of the International Association of Egyptologists, attended by as many as 300 participants. The next step involves implementing this new system in all databases. The 15 linguists will have the next twelve months to further develop the system. The conference in Leiden had a direct impact on the field, as the temporary name for this uniform system is "The Leiden Unified Transliteration/Transcription." It was a remarkable achievement by all who contributed and a commendable initiative by Mr. Kaper!

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