Deciphering Egyptian Hieroglyphs: Towards a New Strategy for Navigation in Museums

Jaime Duque-Domingo, Pedro Javier Herrera, Enrique Valero, Carlos Cerrada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


This work presents a novel strategy to decipher fragments of Egyptian cartouches identifying the hieroglyphs of which they are composed. A cartouche is a drawing, usually inside an oval, that encloses a group of hieroglyphs representing the name of a monarch. Aiming to identify these drawings, the proposed method is based on several techniques frequently used in computer vision and consists of three main stages: first, a picture of the cartouche is taken as input and its contour is localized. In the second stage, each hieroglyph is individually extracted and identified. Finally, the cartouche is interpreted: the sequence of the hieroglyphs is established according to a previously generated benchmark. This sequence corresponds to the name of the king. Although this method was initially conceived to deal with both high and low relief writing in stone, it can be also applied to painted hieroglyphs. This approach is not affected by variable lighting conditions, or the intensity and the completeness of the objects. This proposal has been tested on images obtained from the Abydos King List and other Egyptian monuments and archaeological excavations. The promising results give new possibilities to recognize hieroglyphs, opening a new way to decipher longer texts and inscriptions, being particularly useful in museums and Egyptian environments. Additionally, devices used for acquiring visual information from cartouches (i.e., smartphones), can be part of a navigation system for museums where users are located in indoor environments by means of the combination of WiFi Positioning Systems (WPS) and depth cameras, as unveiled at the end of the document.
Original languageEnglish
Article number589
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2017


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