An ancient light brown lintel with Egyptian hieroglyphs on it, including bird figures, a human face and a lion. There is darkness in the corners of the image but light shines illuminating the middle.

#HieroglyphsExhibition

13 October 2022 – 19 February 2023

Daily: 10.00–17.00 (Fridays 20.30)
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Room 30

The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery
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Tickets

Adults from £18, Members and under 16s free.
See ticket information

For centuries, life in ancient Egypt was a mystery.

We could only glimpse into this hidden world, until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone provided the key to decoding hieroglyphs, allowing us to read this ancient script. The breakthrough expanded our understanding of human history by some 3,000 years.  

Marking 200 years since the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs, this major exhibition takes you through the trials and hard work that preceded, and the revelations that followed, this ground-breaking moment. 

Hieroglyphs were not just beautiful symbols, they represented a living, spoken language. From romantic poetry and international treaties, to shopping lists and tax returns, the hieroglyphic inscriptions and ancient handwriting in this exhibition reveal stories that are fantastically varied. As well as an unshakeable belief in the power of the pharaohs and the promise of the afterlife, ancient Egyptians enjoyed good food, writing letters and making jokes. 

The show will chart the race to decipherment, from initial efforts by medieval Arab travellers and Renaissance scholars to more focussed progress by French scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832) and England’s Thomas Young (1773–1829). The Rosetta Stone, discovered in 1799, with its decree written in hieroglyphs, demotic and the known language of ancient Greek, provided the key to decoding the ancient signs. The results of the 1822 breakthrough proved staggering.

Using inscriptions on the very objects that Champollion and other scholars studied, this immersive exhibition will help you to unlock one of the world’s oldest civilisations.  

Ticket information

Members

Members don't need to book to visit Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt. Please show your Membership card to gain entry. If you're visiting before your Membership card arrives, bring your Membership purchase confirmation email to the Membership Desk in the Great Court on the day of your visit. We'll then issue a temporary card to access your on-site benefits.

Please see our Visiting as a Member page for more information on visiting the Museum.

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