How the Ancient Egyptian Language Was Deciphered

Joshua Rudder of the linguistic channel NativLang created a wonderfully knowledgeable animation that looks into how modern culture was able to interpret and pronounce Coptic, the primary spoken language of ancient Egypt.

Egyptian scribes wrote hieroglyphs for three thousand five hundred years, from the dawn of history until they fell silent. Decades before the fall of Rome, they took one final gasp in this temple, home of the last known inscription. And yet today, I get to animate not a story of loss but of success, a tale of what Ancient Egyptian sounded like, and more importantly, how we know.

The animation also addresses the dedicated work of Jean-François Champollion, a French  philologist who pioneered the study of ancient Egypt.

Champollion, as we see in his writings, is absolutely convinced that Coptic is the Egyptian language, the very same one that stretches back continuously for thousands of years, and that until he can dream in Coptic he will never understand Ancient Egypt.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.