Fun with Hieroglyphs Stamp KitI got the Fun with Hieroglyphs Stamp Kit many years ago, at the same time I got the Fun with Egyptian Amulets kit, both at the British Museum store at Heathrow. I gave it to my sister, who apparently had no interest in it as she didn’t even open it. This Christmas she gave it to Mika as a present.
The kit is pretty cool, I was surprised that the ink was not dried after so many years. The images are not perfectly clear (specially using their ink), but they are understandable enough. Pretty much the whole basic alphabet is included, though I would have liked other common stamps as well (the ones of a man and a woman and the ankh one, for example). Still, it’s quite nice.
My biggest complain is with the sounds they assign to some hieroglyphs, in particular to the bowels. I did not like arguing with Mika about how the vulture hieroglyph, equivalent to a glottal stop, is transliterated as an “a” and not an “e” or “o” – and that we should probably use the chick hieroglyph (a “w”) to render “o”.
For some reason they assign the sound “th” (as in thin) to the animal belly and “th” (as in “the”) to the placenta, but those have been usually understood to be hard “h” sounds (as in the German “ich”). Now their assigment may be because, as far as I know, there are not “th” sounds in ancient Egyptian – but really, why not just convert them into “s” and “d” – as those of us who are native Spanish speakers do before we learn the correct pronunciation of these sounds?
Of course, perhaps my knowledge of Middle Egyptian sounds is out of date, but I don’t think that’s the case.
The booklet that comes with the kit has some interesting information and activities, but I think they are beyond my 8 year old, at least she hasn’t seem interested in them.
This kit is out of print right now, but you still can find them through sellers, starting at $7 including shipping – a bargain, as I’m sure I paid much more than that. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has issued a new Fun with Hieroglyphs kit which seems very similar to the one we have. If you order either used, make sure it comes with the stamps and it’s not just the booklet, though.
As a final note I should say that while the booklet provides information about basic information about hieroglyphs, it does not teach how to read more than a few Egyptian words. So don’t buy the kit hoping to learn ancient Egyptian. If you buy it, just buy it for fun.
As for us, Mika used the stamp kit to stamp paper bags (which we’ll use as goody bags) with the names of her friends. We will also use them for the kids to make bookmarks (with the papyrus paper I bought) – though I would like to get more colorful ink, as the black ink is quite boring. All in all, I think it’s a fun kit and I’m glad we have it.
Mika & Camila’s name written in hieroglyphs. The color in the picture is somewhat off – the top row should be black.