Text Mining the Coffin Texts

Text Mining the Coffin Texts (TM-CT) is a project financed by the Spanish Ministry for Science, Innovation and Universities, which will be run at the University of Alcalá from May 2024 to April 2026.

The main objective of the TM-CT project is to link the MORTEXVAR database with the images from the reference publication of the hieroglyphic version of this corpus (CT I-VIII). TM-CT will provide open access to the full database of the Coffin Texts corpus, with – expectedly – all text variants available in transliteration (alphabetic chain) and translation into modern language(s).

TM-CT will focus on the CT, an important amount of which is now available from the MORTEXVAR database beta version. This dataset will be enriched with the image dataset from the OCR-PT-CT and TTAE projects using a pre-trained artificial neural network (ANN) based on the YOLO v3 strategy and Natural Language Process (NLP) techniques.

More information here.

The TTAE project

Semi-automatic transcription & transliteration of ancient Egyptian

This project continues the OCR-PT-CT project towards implementing a digital toolset to link OCR with transliteration through transcription semi-automatically. This will be done by matching OCR-ed images from photographic and facsimile sources with the corresponding transliteration strings from the MORTEXVAR database.

More information on TTAE and Facebook.

The OCR-PT-CT project

OCR-PT-CT project

From March 2022, an interdisciplinary team (Egyptology and Engineering) runs the OCR-PT-CT project at Universidad de Alcalá (Alcalá de Henares, Madrid) in synergy with the MORTEXVAR project (Comunidad de Madrid) and the GEINTRA and CIARQ research groups.

The OCR-PT-CT project is working on an OCR system adapted to the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts PDF publications in “standard” (Egyptologist or machine handwritten) hieroglyphs that will permit to keep manual encoding at a minimum. Access to these editions has been granted by the Oriental Institute (University of Chicago) and James P. Allen (Brown University, Providence).

The project involves techniques for the segmentation of the hieroglyphic script in these texts and classification systems based on deep neural networks. This will allow the researchers to interactively check the chosen corpus without manually encoding much of the text at the sentence level.

The OCR-PT-CT project will implement a task sequence that will constantly consider the flexibility and range of the data set regarding its possible usability with different complex writing systems.

Follow it on Facebook.

How to become a flea, and what for? Coffin Texts spell 49

In the ancient Egyptian mortuary texts, the deceased takes the shape of different entities (animals, plants and other natural elements, also gods) to prevail over dangers in the Netherworld. In the Coffin Texts spells 49, the deceased adopts the surprising shape of a flea.
Today, we know only six copies of this spell on coffins from Dayr al-Barsha, the necropolis of ancient Hermopolis (Egyptian Khemenu). Keeping in mind how complex these texts are to understand, the Coffin Texts spell 49 seems to indicate that the deceased, identified with Osiris, takes the shape of a flea to escape from some enemies that attack them during the night.

Read the full article (in Spanish) on Revista Digital de los Mundos Antiguos.

CT I 215 f. © Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

Estudios Orientales – Monografías RIIPOA

Estudios Orientales – Monografías RIIPOA

RIIPOA launches the series Estudios Orientales – Monografías RIIPOA

The series aims to:

  • Provide the specialised audience, students and general public with basic and broad-sighted works on the RIIPOA topic, ancient Near East texts in their contexts, that offer thorough analysis while still being accessible to a broad audience.
  • Cover current groundbreaking research in the shape of monographs or collective volumes in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
  • Facilitate universal digital access.
  • Assure scientific quality through a prestigious scientific committee and blind peer-reviewing process.

If you are interested in contributing to Estudios Orientales – Monografías RIIPOA, please contact the series editors through the web (www.riipoa.com) or directly at info@riipoa.com.

Series editors

  • Roxana Flammini. Universidad Católica Argentina, CONICET, Buenos Aires.
  • Carlos Gracia Zamacona. Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares (Madrid).

Area editors

  • José Virgilio García Trabazo. (Mesopotamia, Levant & Anatolia). Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.
  • Abraham I. Fernández Pichel. (Egypt). Centro de História, Universidade de Lisboa.
  • Amparo Mateo Donet (Bible). Universidad de Valencia.

Scientific committee

  • Pascal Vernus. Professor emeritus. École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris.
  • James P. Allen. Wilbour Professor of Egyptology. Brown University, Providence.
  • Michel Mouton. Director. Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo), Beirut.
  • Jean-Claude Margueron. Professor emeritus. École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris.
  • Angelo di Berardino. Professor of Patrology. Augustinianum, Roma.
  • Pablo Andiñach. Professor of Theology. Universidad Católica Argentina, Buenos Aires.

Editorial Team

  • Ana Arroyo, Universidad Castilla La Mancha, Ciudad Real
  • Cristiana Conti, York University, Toronto
  • Samantha González, Missouri State University, Springfield (MO)
  • Briana Jackson, New York University, Nueva York
  • Sika Pedersen, Universidad de Alcalá
  • María Ribes Lafoz, Universidad de Alicante
  • Josué Santos Saavedra, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Daniel Sánchez Muñoz, Universidad de Granada

Follow us



“Writing sDr in the Coffin Texts”, Seminar “Substitution. Narrowing or broadening of knowledge?” (Sonderforschungsbereich 980 “Episteme in Bewegung”, Freie Universität Berlin, 24-25 May 2019)

Adriaan de Buck transcribes a particular spelling of the verb sDr ‘lay down, sleep, spend the night’ from hieratic/cursive hieroglyphs into his handwritten “standard” hieroglyphs for arm (D40 and variants) over sky (N1); see for instance CT II 32 i, passim. Although the problem of the hieratic ideograms for sDr has been recognized in previous literature (such as Goedicke 1988, 4a; Meeks 2015, 41; Tallet 2017, 30-31), this particular spelling in the Coffin Texts has just been liminarly noticed (Westendorf 1991, 428-429), then is discussed in this paper. Three possible explanations are considered: one, a technical device for making the difference between possible ideograms (A55, A104, A104B, Q18, and their variants); two, a perceptual error or reinterpretation between some of the previous and the sequence [arm:sky]; three, an intended “monogram” or “emblem” alluding to the essential link between father and son in the funerary/mortuary realm through the equation [son = father’s support].


Goedicke, H. 1988. Old Hieratic Palaeography. Baltimore: HALGO.

Meeks, D. 2015. Linguistique et égyptologie: entre théorisation à priori et contribution à l’étude de de la culture égyptienne. Chronique d’Égypte 90: 41.

Tallet, P. 2017. Les papyrus de la mer Rouge I: Le “journal de Merer” (Papyrus Jarf A et B) (Mémoires de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale 136). Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 30-31.

Westendorf, W. 1991. Die ‛Löwenmöbelfolge’ in die Himmels-hieroglyphe. Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Abteilung Kairo 47: 425-434.

Substitution Programm

Inside Ancient Egyptian Graphemics

This blog intends to be a platform for shared discussion about the ancient Egyptian writing system in its four codes (hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic, and coptic, with their variants).

Although our focus is on ancient Egypt, we welcome contributions and comments from colleagues working on comparable writing systems of other cultures, especially those showing high levels of iconicity.

We seek ways to perform new studies from a bottom-up, in-context perspective in order to ask new questions and find new answers for issues including:

• interaction between writing and its environment, i.e. supporting medium (including architecture), representations, and real world

• interconnection between the different codes in use in ancient Egypt: hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic, and coptic (with their variants)

• interrelations between the system as a whole and the signs as elements of the system, with an special attention to the diachronic axis (for instance, the role of the biliterals, monograms or “phonetic complements”)

versatility in using the signs (their excluding or simultaneous multifunctionality, the interferences between the sign classifications)

If you have any ideas to help this quest advance, you are most welcome to use this blog as a collaborative and scholarly venue with ultimate objective of improving our understanding of one of the most brilliant achievements of the human mind.

Angela McDonald & Carlos Gracia Zamacona, University of Glasgow


Ce blog a pour but de devenir une plateforme de discussion sur le système d’écriture de l’Égypte ancienne dans ces quatre codes : hiéroglyphique, hiératique, démotique et copte, avec leurs variants.

Même si notre attention porte sur l’Égypte ancienne, nous encourageons les contributions et commentaires des collègues travaillant sur des similaires systèmes d’écriture dans d’autres cultures, particulièrement ceux à un haut degré d’iconicité.

Nous cherchons des manières novatrices d’étude dans une perspective de bas en haut, contextualisée dans l’intention de poser des questions nouvelles et de trouver des réponses nouvelles à des problèmes comme ceux qui suivent :

• l’interaction entre écriture et milieu ; c.-à-d., le support (architecture y incluse), les représentations et la réalité

• l’interconnexion entre les différents codes utilisés en Égypte ancienne : hiéroglyphique, hiératique, démotique et copte, avec leurs variants

• les interrelations entre le système en tant qu’un tout et les signes en tant qu’éléments du système, avec une attention spéciale pour l’axe diachronique ; par exemple, le rôle des bilitères, des monogrammes et des « compléments phonétiques »

• la versatilité dans l’usage des signes : leur multifunctionalité excluante ou simultanée ; les interférences entre les classifications des signes

Si vous avez des idées pour faire avancer cette enquête, vous êtes chaleureusement invité(e) à utiliser ce blog comme une plateforme de collaboration académique avec l’objectif ultime d’améliorer notre vision de l’un des exploits les plus brillants de l’esprit humain.


Este blog quiere ser una plataforma de discusión compartida sobre el sistema de escritura del Egipto antiguo en sus cuatro códigos: jeroglífico, hierático, demótico y copto, con sus variantes.

Aunque nuestra atención principal sea el Egipto antiguo, acogeremos contribuciones y comentarios de colegas que trabajan en sistemas de escritura similares de otras culturas, en particular aquellos con altos niveles de iconicidad.

Buscamos nuevas maneras de llevar a cabo estudios con una perspectiva de abajo hacia arriba, contextualizada, con el objetivo de plantear nuevas preguntas y encontrar nuevas respuestas a problema como estos:

• la interacción entre la escritura y su medio; a saber, el soporte (incluida la arquitectura), las representaciones y la realidad

• la interconexión entre los diferentes códigos empleados en el Egipto antiguo: jeroglífico, hierático, demótico y copto, con sus variantes

• las interrelaciones entre el sistema como un todo y los signos como elementos del sistema, con especial atención al eje diacrónico (por ejemplo, el rol de los bilíteros, de los monogramas o de los “complementos fonéticos”)

• la versatilidad en el uso de los signos (su multifuncionalidad excluyente o simultánea, las interferencias entre las clasificaciones de los signos)

Si tiene usted alguna idea que contribuya a hacer avanzar esta investigación, le animamos a usar este blog como plataforma de colaboración académica con el objetivo último de mejorar nuestra comprensión de uno de los logros más brillantes de la mente humana.


Questo blog vuole essere una piattaforma di discussione condivisa sul sistema di scrittura dell’antico Egitto nei suoi quattro codici: geroglifico, ieratico, demotico e copto, con le loro varianti.

Sebbene il nostro obiettivo principale sia l’antico Egitto, accogliamo con favore contributi e commenti da colleghi che lavorano su sistemi di scrittura simili di altre culture, in particolare quelli con alti livelli d’iconicità.

Cerchiamo nuovi modi per condurre studi con una prospettiva dal basso verso l’alto, contestualizzata, con lo scopo di sollevare nuove domande e trovare nuove risposte a problemi come questi:

l’interazione tra la scrittura e il suo mezzo; vale a dire, il supporto (compresa l’architettura), le rappresentazioni e la realtà

l’interconnessione tra i diversi codici usati nell’antico Egitto: geroglifico, ieratico, demotico e copto, con le loro varianti

le interrelazioni tra il sistema nel suo complesso e i segni come elementi del sistema, con particolare attenzione all’asse diacronico (ad esempio, il ruolo dei bilitteri, dei monogrammi o dei “complementi fonetici”)

la versatilità nell’uso dei segni (la loro multifunzionalità esclusiva o simultanea, le interferenze tra le classificazioni dei segni)

Se avete idee che contribuiscano a far progredire questa ricerca, vi incoraggiamo a utilizzare questo blog come piattaforma per la collaborazione accademica con l’obiettivo finale di migliorare la nostra comprensione di uno dei più brillanti risultati della mente umana.


Dieser Blog bietet eine Plattform für eine gemeinsame Diskussion des altägyptischen Schriftsystems in seinen vier Ausprägungen: Hieroglyphisch, Hieratisch, Demotisch und Koptisch mitsamt Varianten.

Obwohl unser Hauptaugenmerk auf dem alten Ägypten liegt, begrüβen wir Beiträge und Kommentare von Kollegen, die an ähnlichen Schriftsystemen aus anderen Kulturen arbeiten, insbesondere an solchen mit einer hohen Ikonizität.

Wir suchen nach neuen Wegen, Studien durchzuführen, die, mit einer bottom-up, kontextualisierten Perspektive das Ziel verfolgen, neue Fragen zu stellen und neue Antworten auf Probleme zu finden, wie:

• die Interaktion zwischen Text und seiner Umgebung, wie z.B. Schriftmedien (einschließlich der Architektur), bildlichen Darstellungen und der Realität

• die Verbindung zwischen den verschiedenen Codes im alten Ägypten: Hieroglyphen, Hieratisch, Demotisch und Koptisch mit ihren Varianten

• die Wechselbeziehungen zwischen dem System als Ganzes und den Zeichen als Elemente dieses Systems, mit besonderem Augenmerk auf die diachrone Achse (wie, zum Beispiel, die Rolle der Zweikonsonantenzeichen, der Monogramme oder der „phonographischen Komplemente“)

• die Vielseitigkeit bei der Verwendung von Zeichen (ihre ausschließliche oder gleichzeitige (Multi-)Funktionalität, sowie die dabei entstehenden Interferenzen zwischen den verschiedenen Zeichenarten)

Wenn Sie Ideen zur Weiterentwicklung dieses Forschungsprojektes haben, möchten wir Sie herzlich dazu einladen, diesen Blog als eine Plattform für akademische Zusammenarbeit zu nutzen, mit dem gemeinsamen Ziel, unser Verständnis für eine der intelligentesten Errungenschaften des menschlichen Geistes zu verbessern.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search