Collection of Material Relating to Egyptian Hieroglyphics

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-544
  • Dates of Creation
      19th century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English, German, Arabic, and Egyptian (Ancient).
  • Physical Description
      2 boxes, 5 separate volumes. Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.
  • Location
      Gen. 1-24F

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of notes mainly on Egyptian hieroglyphics, including studies for a dictionary of hieroglyphics. In addition to the volumes and boxed notebooks there are a number of folded documents and miscellaneous manuscripts.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Richardson had been an Egyptologist. He died in 1877.

Egyptology is the study of pharaonic Egypt, spanning the period circa 4500 BC to AD 641. Egyptology began when the scholars accompanying Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt (1798-1801) published Description de l'Egypte (1809-28), which made large quantities of source material about ancient Egypt available to European scholars.

Written Egyptian documents date to circa 3350 BC when the first pharaohs developed a writing system employing characters in the form of pictures. These individual signs, called hieroglyphs, may be read either as pictures, as symbols for pictures, or as symbols for sounds. The name 'hieroglyphic' (from the Greek word for 'sacred carving') is first encountered in the writings of Diodorus Siculus in the 1st century BC.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

The material was presented in 1878.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) The new encyclopaedia Britannica. Micropedia, 15th ed. (Chicago and London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1991).

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.