Quick Search

The Quick Search function is accessible from any page of Papersesh just writing down a search criterion in the input box placed in our header, next to the main menu.

The resulting page will include every grapheme that match the search criterion by nomen, Gardiner code, reading or meaning.

It surely is the easiest way to access Papersesh contents.

Hieroglyph Search

Searching a glyph in our database is pretty easy.

If you need to find a certain grapheme and its meanings, is possible by providing three main criteria:

  1. Modulation
    Select the number of modules occupied by the glyph. This field is compulsory.

  2. Arrangement
    If you have a precise idea of the arrangement of the sign you're looking for, you can select one or more arrangements among the given ones. If no arrangement is select, we'll search between every arrangement.

  3. Gardiner
    All the Gardiner's categories are selected by default. If you are sure that your sign is not placed is one or more Gardiner's categories, unselect those categories to restrain the research.

Moreover, you can specifically research all the glyphs which are formed by the simple repetition of another sign selecting the repetition criterion flag(“Has repeated glyph”).

Examples of that are the sign for water, AQUAE, <G>, <mw>, m,ōou, “power”, BAU, <x>, <bA.w>, the monogram <mm>, DUAE NOCTUAE, <k>, and so on. This flag also applies to glyphs which have elements repeated in a symmetrical scheme, like CORONA ATEF, <å>.



Such a glyph is of course very small and you can find it accompanied by other glyphs in all four directions or placed alone in mid-air next to a four modules square occupied by other signs of a series, in which it is the final grapheme, or even put on top, accompanied by a determinative written below. They can be

  1. SQUARED, if they have:

    1. a perfectly squared shape, like SCAMNUM, <Ä>;

    2. a right angle, like NIGRUM, <Ü>;

  2. ROUNDED, like PUPULA, <>;

  3. ARCHED, like PANIS, <°>;

  4. ANGULAR (with a non-right angle), like ½, <ƒ>;

  5. OBLIQUE, like little birds drawn half-face, like e. g. HIRUNDO, <~>, or PASSER, <>.


Words containing only one-quarter signs fill the squares in columns, with the last sign written beside the last column, normally at half-height. Let's take for example the sign NIGRUM, <Ü>, bilitter <km>, for the words containing the rooth <kmm>, kmom, qualitative kīm, which means “complete” and encircles a lot of meanings, among which you can find the concepts of “full”, “successful”, “gain”, “black”: from this last meaning comes the word for Egypt, <km.t>, Kīmi, litt. “the black(-grounded) one” (in contrast with <dSr.t>, “the red(-grounded) one”, i. e. the desert, from <dSr>, terš, “red”). Well, if another one-quarter sign accompanies this bilitter <km>, e. g. the female desinence <.t>, this latter is written below, and not beside, the former: if another one-quarter sign follows, e. g. the determinative for cities and countries, this is normally written beside the column constitued by the first two signs, at half-height, like this:

If a word is not only formed by one-quarter signs and the first non-one-quarter sign which follows the one-quarter signs is not horizontal, the arrangement exposed in the previous paragraph holds true, and the one-quarter signs fill the squares in column: take a look, for example, to the name of the God Ptah, <ptH>, Ptah, Phtha: it is formed by two one-quarter sign, one squared, <Ä>, SCAMNUM, one arched, <°>, PANIS, and one vertical two-quarters sign, <Ô>, CANDELA, plus the determinative of Gods, DIVUS, <O>. You'll find this word written like this:

as you can see, the two one-quarter signs are written in column, because the sign <Ô> is not horizontal. This particular arrangement can be used by the scribe not depending on the order of pronunciation, like in

where the order of the signs seems to be *<ttw>, but it's actually <twt>, thōouti, qual. thouīt, “gather, collect, fit”: scribes act like this to avoid too much empty spaces in their writing (on the other hand, they are native Egyptian speakers, thus they face no difficulty in correctly spelling the word even if the order of pronounce is not immediately understandable from the order of writing).

If the first non-one-quarter sign is horizontal, it is written below and the one-quarter signs preceding it are written side by side above in order of pronunciation, like in <p.t>, pe, phe, “sky”, which we saw above:

If a one-quarter sign precedes or follows an oblique two-quarters sign, the former fills the quarter/s which is/are not filled by the latter. For example, another form of the word <twt>, which we saw above, is

where the two one-quarter signs framing the oblique two-quarter sign fill the lower left quarter and the upper right quarter of the square, i. e. that portion of the square, which is left empty by the central sign. It allows the scribe to avoid empty spaces and in the same time it respects the real sound succession of the word.

If a one-quarter sign is followed by a three-quarters sign, the former occupies the center of the square with the latter running under it, like in <pa.t>, “patricians”, written like this:

as you can see, the one-quarter sign lays right above the following three-quarter one, filling the right part of the upper left quarter and the left part of the upper right quarter of the square; while the following two one-quarter signs, the bread PANIS <t> and the egg OVUM, determinative (thus this last is not to be transcribed), fill the space in column, according to the rules explained above. The following two signs, the man HOMO and the woman MULIER, in spite of their being three-quarters angular signs, are often reduced by the scribe when followed by that sign made up by three little vertical lines, 3, which is the mark of plural, in order to fill a unique square together with it. When you find HOMO and MULIER with 3, this always means that whatever precedes it is a class of people, clearly of both sex: nobles, servants, artisans, children, foreign people etc. When two one-quarter sign frame a horizontal two-quarters sign or an angular three-quarters sign, they fill the space in column, making up a +-like arrangement. The word we just saw can be written like this as well (without OVUM):

When a one-quarter sign is followed by a four-quarters sign, the latter is sometimes a little reduced, so as to fill the square together with it, like in the noun <s.t>, se, “place”:

in which the last sign, DOMUS, is placed underneath, in spite of its being mostly placed in the middle of the square, and this is done in order to leave the empty space which will be filled by PANIS. But most of the times a four-quarters sign doesn't allow reductions or reassessments and fills the square alone: this always happens when the last one-quarter sign is not as small as PANIS: in the noun <jp.t>, hīpi, “harem”, “gynaeceum”, “secret chamber”, for example, DOMUS is left alone and put in its usual central position:


Two-quarters signs are:

  1. VERTICAL: such a glyph are e. g. DIGITUS, <´>; all the signs representing scepters, sticks, columns and the like: CONSTRUO, <Ã>, COLUMNA, <j>, LOQUOR, <Ù>...; all the signs representing standing men with arms tied to the body, like FORMA, <\>, and PTAH, <t>;

  2. HORIZONTAL, like UNGUIS, <>, SARCOPHAGUS, <]>, SERA, <p>...;

  3. DESCENDING OBLIQUE, like MORS, <Ÿ>, and all the birds of prey drawn sideways, e. g. VULTUR, <X>, or HORUS, <\>, in which the body of the bird, apart from its feet which are stretched downwards, runs from the upper left quarter (beak) to the lower right quarter (tail);

  4. ASCENDING OBLIQUE two-quarters signs are usually those representing headgears, like CORONA ALBA, <¨>, or CORONA DUPLEX, <º>.


Vertical two-quarters signs fill the space in columns. Oblique signs act as vertical ones. In the following verb, <jbj>, ibi, qual. obi, “to be thirsty”, you find three two-quarters signs: the first two, which are respectively the reed CALAMUS, <j>, and the shinbone TIBIA, <b>, are vertical and are put next to one another, filling successive columns. The last one, the jumping kid CAPELLA PROSILIENS, determinative, is oblique and acts as the two which precede it, vertically following them the way we said above, as if it was a simple vertical sign:

The kid, in Egyptian <jb>, here acts as a phonetic determinative, while the three rivulets AQUAE, ideogram of <mw>, mōou, “water”, act as ideographic determinative. The former helps the reader to associate the single sounds of the unilitters <j> and <b> to a word which contains them both, i. e. the word for “kid”: no semantic link is created between the first two signs and the third one; this last is put here only because of a phonetic resemblance. A semantic link exists with the latter instead: a link which is very easy to understand between the verb “to be thirsty” and the sign for “water”. In this word you can observe one of the most important features of Egyptian hieroglyphs: the signs are always written in ascending order of semantic importance and in descending order of phonetic importance. While reading our transcriptions of Egyptian words, you may have wandered why consistent portions of a word are not transcribed, as if the scribe didn't even have written them: this is why. They aren't transcribed because the aren't read. All the final portions of the words are of least importance for reading, but they are of paramount importance for understanding. Somehow, they fill in for the vowels hieroglyphs are blind to, being a purely consonant script.

Horizontal two-quarters signs fill the space in lines, the following ones being put under the preceding ones. For example, in the word <sSS.t>, “sistrum”, which has almost only horizontal two-quarters signs, these are arranged this way:

as you can see, the unilitter <s>, SERA, horizontal two-quarters sign, is horizontally matched with the subsequent unilitter <S>, LACUS. Another unilitter <S> follows, and it is matched with the upper-arched one-quarter unilitter <t>, PANIS, which is the feminine ending of the word. The vertical two-quarters ideographic determinative SISTRUM concludes the word.

More two-quarters signs which are different in shape are simply put next to one another, taking no care of the empty spaces left. This is what happens writing the verb <aba>, “to boast”:

where the signs are written in sequence. Sometimes, two two-quarters signs, one horizontal and one vertical, are merged in one cross-like sign, as in <sf>, saf, “yesterday”: it can be “normally” written:

but scribes usually prefer to write it like this:

Even though a sign obtained merging two such unilitters is a unique sign which stands for two sounds, it is not called “bilitter”, but “monogram”: actually, it's not a “true” sign, since both signs which make it up are clearly visible and distinguishable. Moreover, its reading is nothing but the readings of each sign summed up. A sign, even if it's clearly composed by more distinguishable signs, is considered one sign only when its reading is different from the readings of both signs it's formed from. This is for example what happens with the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, CORONA DUPLEX, <º>: in fact, in spite of its clearly being the result of two united signs, namely the White Crown of Upper Egypt, CORONA ALBA, <¨>, and the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, CORONA RUBRA, <ä> (the former being inserted in the latter), the resulting sign is considered a unique sign, because its reading, which is <sxm.ty>, skhent, litt. “the two powerful ones”, differs in sound and meaning both from that of the former, which is <HD.t>, litt. “the white one”, and from that of the latter, which is <dSr.t>, litt. “the red one”.


A three-modules glyph can present many arrangements:

  1. RIGHT LOWER ANGULAR SIGNS occupy the two lower quarters and the upper right one, like HOMO, <!>, and many glyphs representing seated human subjects; a number of objects whose identity is not always immediately understandable are such, like the bird catching net NECTO, <A>, and its older variant NECTO PRIUS, <B>. These signs are usually determinatives;

  2. LEFT LOWER ANGULAR SIGNS occupy the two lower quarters and the upper left one. Such are many glyphs which represent crouched animals with their bodies filling the two lower quarters and their necks and heads occupying the upper left one: e. g. the BUBALIS, bilitter <jw>, <Í>. In this group are those of standing long-horned animals as well, with body and feet occupying the lower quarters and head and horns the upper left one: examples of these are ORYX <à>, GAZELLA, <á>. Of course, such are also signs of long-necked animals like GIRAFFA <ß>;

  3. RIGHT UPPER ANGULAR SIGNS occupy the two upper quarters ending in the lower right one: such signs are e. g. the man who shakes his stick to menace someone, VERBERO, <?> , that of the tongue of ox, LINGUA, <7>, bilitter <ns>, that of the lizard LACERTA, <Ó>, trilitter <aSA>, that of the cobra BASILISCUS, <œ>, unilitter <D>;

  4. LEFT UPPER ANGULAR SIGNS occupy the lower left quarter, continuing in the upper left one and ending in the upper right one, having a gamma-like shape, like the man who stretches his arms behind his back in sign of turning his sight away, AVERTOR, <F>, or the sign for “angle”, ANGULUS, <t>, <qnb.t>, or the sign for <sbx.t>, “gateway”, PORTA, <\>, etc.;

  5. T-SHAPED AND +-SHAPED SIGNS are those of men with arms extended in various postures (EFFERO, <C>, PELLO <@>, SALTO, <G>...). Such are birds drawn half-face too, whose bodies are horizontal and not oblique, or whose beaks don't stand out against the shoulders, e. g. the bird used writing the verb <gmj>, jimi, “to find”, INVENIO, <v>; ALO, <Ç>. In general, every sign which has its main part in the upper quarters and an appendix in the middle area between the two lower quarters is in this category, e. g. the sign for “cry”, <rmj>, rimi, FLEO, <~>. Examples of +-like signs are IN, <>, EDO, <ï>, STOLISTA, <º>, and the like;

  6. OVERTURNED-T-SHAPED SIGNS are the bird's foot, TALUM, <Ò>, or the overturned man EVERTOR, <D>, and the like;

  7. OBLIQUE-T-SHAPED SIGNS are very few. An example is the bird with wings stretched behind, QUIESCO, <¸>;


Because of their shapes, right upper angular signs are a little bit difficult to arrange with other signs. Thus, they are normally left in their standard dimension only when they are alone or when they are put together with one-quarter signs. In all other cases, most of times scribes choose one of two ways to arrange them: 1) to reduce them to a bimodular dimension; 2) to reduce the following sign to a unimodular dimension. If the first of these two ways is chosen, they act either as vertical or horizontal two-quarters signs.

Right lower angular signs are usually determinatives. Thus, they are usually alone in the square and left in their original dimension, with the right upper quarter left empty. In this word,

<sS>, sakh, “scribe”, and in all the numerous words which use the determinative HOMO, the upper left quarter is filled only by a little portion of the sign and this is due only to the posture of the man. When this particular posture is absent, you see that quarter empty, as when the determinative of gods' names, DIVUS, <O>, is in use, for example in <ra>, Rī, the god Ra:

In other signs of this type these empty spaces are even more clear, e. g. in <sxt>, sōkhi, “to weave”:

where the three-quarters sign NECTO leaves a clearly visible empty space in the upper left quarter. This same word, however, can be also written like this:

with the unilitter <s> PANNUS, <>, substituted by the other unilitter <s> SERA, <p>, because this can be put together with the unilitter <x>, PLACENTA, <>, and the unilitter <t>, PANIS, fills the empty quarter.

Left lower angular signs are usually initial or final signs: when initial, they act as horizontal two-quaters signs, as in <jwaw>, “heir”:

or in the noun <mSrw.t>, “dinner”, where the bilitter LEO CUBANS, <rw> (alone in the third column of the word written below) acts as a horizontal two-quarters sign framed by two vertical signs of the same modulation:

When determinatives, they are left alone, like the last sign of the word <mAj>, moui, “lion”:

Such a sign usually admits only a little sign to fill the quarter which is left empty. In the word for “tongue”, <ns>, las, the three-quarters ideogram of this anatomic part, LINGUA, <7> , is on top of its determinative, the one-quarter sign for “meat”, CARO, <V>, <jwf>, af,

so as all four quarters of the square are full. A sign which is normally bigger can be reduced in order to fill the quarter left empty and only a portion of a quarter yet occupied by the three-quarters sign. In the verb for “say”, <Dd>, , you can see an example of that:

the second unilitter, <d>, the hand MANUS, <¯>, is normally a horizontal two-quarters sign, but here is a little reduced, so as it doesn't cover the tail of the cobra depicted in the first unilitter, <D>, BASILISCUS, <œ>.

Left upper angular signs can be reduced in height to leave a space for a one-quarter sign, as in <qnb.t>, “angle”, when ANGULUS, <t>, determinative, is put together with the fem desinence:

but they’re preferably left in their dimension and put alone, as the last sign of <sbx.t>, “gate”:

T-shaped and +-shaped signs act as vertical two-quarters signs; little +-shaped signs act as one-quarter signs. These signs are never reduced or however arranged in ways which modify their basic form. You can see this in the word for “eat”, <wnm>, ouōm, which can be written both with a big and a small T-shaped sign, namely IN, <>, and EDO, <ï>:


Overturned T-shaped signs act as vertical two-quarters signs or are reduced to leave a space for a one-quarter sign. You can see an example of both cases in the sign TALUM, <Ò>, which in the word <SA.t>, “talon of a bird of prey”, stands alone:

but in the word “Shat” (a toponym), <SA.t>, is reduced to leave a space for PANIS, <°>, <t>:

Oblique T-shaped signs act exactly like the other signs of this modulation, being reduced when put together with other signs or being left in their normal dimension when alone. You can see this in the sign QUIESCO, <¸>, which when is determinative, e. g. in <xnj>, “to alight, stop, rest”, is left in its dimension, maintaining the empty spaces which are created by this arrangement:

A little grammar note: as you can see, the last letter of the word, <j>, CALAMUS, <ë>, doesn’t appear in the normal writing of this verb, in spite of its appearing in the transcription, “<xnj>” (and hence in vocabularies you have to search it as <xnj> and not as <xn>): this happens because the phoneme that letter stands for is a weak phoneme, which usually disappears except in some verbal forms where it is strongly pronounced due to grammatical reasons; and in those cases it appears in a redoubled form of the letter, <ëë>, which is transcribed <y>. This usually happens when the verb takes a pronominal suffix, like this:

<xny=k>, “you alight, stop, rest” (as you can see, the pronominal suffix is marked in transcriptions by a sign of equal, <=>, but remember that this is a conventional mark invented by Egyptologists in order to underline this particular grammatical feature and it has no relations with the real hieroglyph writing of a word: none of those signs you see above corresponds to <=>).

When such a sign is accompanied by other determinatives, it is reduced to be composed with them, as it happens in the collective noun <Apd.w>, “birds”, where it’s put together with the mark of plural, 3, <õ>:


Four-quarters glyphs are mostly determinatives as well, hence they are mostly found at the end of the word and they are not usually put together with other signs or, when they are, scribes reduce them in order to leave a space as it happens in three-quarters signs.

Four-quarters signs can take a lot of shapes:

  1. Upper angular like the pyramid PYRAMIS, <f>;

  2. Lower angular like the fly MUSCA, <«>;

  3. Right angular like the old man SENEX, <9>;

  4. Quadrangular like the portico ADITUS, <n>;

  5. P-Greek-shaped like the sign for grapes, UVA, <ˆ>;

  6. Overturned P-Greek-shaped like the sign for spirit, two arms stretched upwards, KA, <>;

  7. Right-oriented-P-Greek-shaped like a sign derived from the last, NEHEB-KAU, <>;

  8. Polygonal like the sign for fight, with two arms with shield and arrow, PUGNO, <¢>;

  9. Rounded like the sign for foundation, the foundation rope FUNDO, <z>;

  10. Mixed of rounded and squared elements like the sign for grass, HERBA, <š>;

  11. Irregularly curvilinear like the chariot PLOSTRUM, <8>;

  12. Upper-arched like the sign for stele, STELA, <h>;

  13. Lower-arched like the breast MAMMA MAIOR, <˜>;

  14. Left-arched like the fishing-net RETE, <?>.

NB: Conical signs are to be searched as arched signs of the same modulation.


Since such signs act more or like as three-quarters signs do, we don’t need to see a number of examples of this category. Usually they are determinatives, lay at the end of word and are left alone in their normal dimension, but sometimes they are reduced to leave space to a one-quarter sign exactly as it happens with three-quarters signs, like KA, <>, in <kA.t>, “work”:

Interesting is the case of PYRAMIS, <f>, which is left in its normal dimension but reduces the two unilitters which constitute the word for “pyramid”, <mr>, so as these two signs, NOCTUA, <j>, <m>, and OS, <>, <r>, fill only one column:

D7: all the graphemes which can be divided into more distinct elements, like SCRIBO, or into single clearly recognizable graphemes, like CAELO, are classified in the category D7. If a grapheme is composed by one or more repetitions of another grapheme, it is classified in this category and is contemporaneously identified by the "repetition criterion", an example of which is HYDRIAE.