What were hieroglyphs written on?

Hieroglyphs were written on lots of different surfaces.              
Temple Walls The stone walls of temples were carved all over with hieroglyphs and pictures, then painted brightly.

This picture shows how temples used to look. Nowadays most of the paint has washed off because of rain.

Here is a photo of some hieroglyphs carved and painted on the wall of Rameses III's temple in Luxor.


Tomb Walls Tomb walls were usually plastered over before carving and painting with hieroglyphs and pictures.

One man drew the outline. He was called an outline scribe. Another man carved the hieroglyphs, then another coloured them in.



This picture shows some of these outlines and the beginnings of the carving on the left.

Papyrus Papyrus was the first paper, invented by the ancient Egyptians about 5000 years ago. The background to this web page is a piece of papyrus. Papyrus - click to find out more about papyrus, including how it was made.
Ostraca Ostraca were bits of limestone or pottery used by pupils learning to be scribes. Papyrus was too expensive for students to use!

This one you can see is covered in hieroglyphs.


Wood Hieroglyphs were written on wooden coffins, furniture, and lots of other wooden items


Stone As well as stone walls, hieroglyphs were carved on statues and sarcophagi (stone coffins), and slabs of stone called stele.

This is the sarcophagus of Amenhotep II.

Jewellery and other items Many other objects, like jewellery, were made with hieroglyphs, or had hieroglyphs written on them. Tutankhamun's pectoral, for example, was made up of hieroglyphs spelling his name. Click on the picture to read more about this object.