What direction do you read Hieroglyphs in?

Usually right to left

Scribes usually wrote hieroglyphic from right to left, but within columns. On temple walls and papyrus writing was mainly in columns, which you read down (see the example here). But when two hieroglyphs are next to each other, you go right to left. (that's this way: <----). And you start at the right of the wall or the page and go left, from column to column.

This is the opposite to English; you are now reading from left to right, right? Most European languages go left to right, like English. But some other languages, like Arabic and Hebrew, go right to left, like Egyptian.

But also left to right!

Scribes were also allowed to write left to write, like we do.

Huh? So how do you know which way to read hieroglyphs?

There's an easy way to tell which way hieroglyphs should be read.

Look at the faces!

All you have to do is look at which way all the faces are pointing. Then read towards the faces.

Look at this picture. You can see the two men, and the two birds, all facing to the right. So you start from the right and go left, towards the faces.
In this picture you can see the owl and the viper are both facing left. So you start at the left and go right, towards the faces.
What about here, when the hieroglyphs are in a column? You read down, never up. And if you look at the faces of the birds and the snake, you can see they are all facing the same way - left. So on the top, you should read the reed before the chick. And the next column you read would be the one on the right of this.












Try these examples. Can you see which way to read the writing?

It's in columns, so you go down each column. But which way are all the faces pointing?

They're facing right. So you start at the right side of all these columns and go left. You read down the first column on the right, then go back to the top of the second column on the right, read down, and so on.

This next one is a bit of a trick. Can you see why?