Welcome to this website

If you're an Egyptologist and you'd like to use Linux for all your egyptological work (like we do), you cannot simply use well-known applications like Word and WinGlyph, because they only work in Windows. That doesn't mean there are no alternative applications that do the same thing in Linux: we are working on our masters degree thesis and we only use Linux for this.

There is software available for Linux to write papers (including hieroglyphs, transliteration, Coptic and Arabic), create a database of hieroglyphic texts, and much more. You can even use the AEB cd-rom, which normally only works in Windows!

We made this website because we'd like to share our experiences with all Linux-software you can use for egyptological work. On this page, you can find out:

  • what Egyptology-related software is available for Linux?
  • how do I have to install these applications?

If you have any suggestions (e.g. you know another useful application that't not yet listed here) or problems (e.g. you try to install something using our installation instructions and it doesn't work), feel free to contact us at contact-AT-filipvervloesem.be.

Linux applications for egyptologists

All applications we've tested are listed in one of the following subcategories:

  • typesetting hieroglyphs
  • databases for hieroglyphic texts
  • other applications for working with hieroglyphic texts
  • tools to study the Ancient Egyptian language
  • typesetting Arabic, Hebrew and Coptic
  • TrueType fonts for hieroglyphs, transliteration and Coptic
  • Egyptology-related cd-roms

For each application, you can find a short description about what it can do and a link to its homepage. Click on the name of an application to read detailed installation instructions for different Linux distributions.

Typesetting hieroglyphs

Online hieroglyphic typesetting

These applications can be used within your webbrowser, without installing anything. Very easy for people who casually need to typeset some hieroglyphic words/sentences or even short texts. They all output an image-file which can be imported into your favorite word processor (such as OpenOffice Write of KWrite). However, it can become quite difficult to integrate larger hieroglyphic sentences in a text-document, because line-breaks must be inserted manually in the hieroglyphic text. Advanced features like (partial) shading of signs, rotating or mirroring signs, etc. are mostly not supported.

Hierowriter (by P. Sciortino)

A basic hieroglyphic text generator that needs Manuel de Codage-encoded input (see below for more information about MdC-encoding) and outputs medium sized PNG-images.
Launch Hierowriter outlink

Glyphomat (by H. Wodtke)

Glyphomat does the same thing as Hierowriter, but it uses another font, has index tables of all hieroglyphic signs (if you click on a sign, it will be inserted in the MdC-code) and you can even search the sign list by phonetical values. It outputs PDF-files, which cannot be imported in OpenOffice, so you have to convert them to another format first. You can do this e.g. by using the following command in a terminal window:

convert -density 600 glyphen.pdf glyphen.png

You will need ImageMagick outlink for this.
Launch Glyphomat outlink

WikiHiero (by Guillaume Blanchard)

WikiHiero is another web-based application for typesetting hieroglyphic texts, but it has a different goal. Because it outputs HTML-code (which makes use of hundreds of images), you can use it to add hieroglyphic texts to your website (or any other HTML-document). Its output is not suited to reuse in a word-processing application.
Launch WikiHiero outlink

Integrated hieroglyphic typesetting solutions

HieroTeX (by S. Rosmorduc)

HieroTeX is simply the integrated hieroglyphic typesetting solution for Linux. With integrated, we mean that you can type your hieroglyphs in the same application as the rest of your document. HieroTex is an extension to LaTeX, an advanced typesetting application. It gives a very high quality output (in PDF-format) and has lots of options for typesetting (stacking and shading hieroglyphs, writing from left to right of from right to left, writing in columns, etc. We thinks it's the most powerful option for hieroglyphic typesetting in Linux, even the only option for people who need to integrate many hieroglyphic texts in their documents (e.g. many text fragments on each page of your document, longer texts, hieroglyphs in footnotes, ...). Unfortunately, learning LaTeX is not as easy as using a modern word-processor, although we would highly recommend to try it. Using LaTeX, you can produce very high-quality, professional looking documents. Information for getting started with LaTeX can be found at the TeX Users Group outlink.

HieroTeX website outlink

Hieroglyphic WYSIWYG-editors

JSesh (by S. Rosmorduc)

JSesh is an easy to use editor for typing hieroglyphic texts. Almost every MdC-code (e.g. different signs, cartouches, philological notations, etc.) can be inserted from a couple of dropdown-menu’s, so you do not need to learn the MdC-encoding standard if you don't want to. (Although we would still recommend it, because it can seriously speed up your productivity.) JSesh can print hieroglyphic texts, export to different image file formats or HTML and it has more advanced typesetting features than HieroTeX (notably the ligature system).

JSesh website outlink

Other typesetting solutions

mdc2html (by G. N. Watson)

Update 18/07/2012: mdc2html's website seems to be gone...

mdc2html is a commandline Perl-script to convert MdC-encoded input to HTML. It can also parse HTML-files which contain MdC-encoded text, making it easy to integrate hieroglyphs in your webpage. It doesn't implement all advanced features of MdC (scaling/rotation/...).
Old url: http://itee.uq.edu.au/~gwat/pers/hiero/mdc2html/mdc2html_readme.html

res2image (by M.-J. Nederhof)

M.-J. Nederhof proposed the RES (Revised Encoding Scheme) as a modern alternative to MdC. There are no editors (yet) who use this encoding scheme, but the commandline res2image utility can generate images of hieroglyphs using this RES-encoding.

The RES-encoding is certainly a big step forward compared to the Manuel de Codage we’re using now. Just read the article A revised Encoding Scheme for Hieroglyphic outlink and you’ll see why RES is far better than MdC. res2image is already a good tool to generate images of not too long hieroglyphic fragments (some words or sentences), with advanced typesetting options that MdC cannot handle.
res2image website outlink

Databases for hieroglyphic texts

TkSesh (by S. Rosmorduc)

Update 04/04/2014: TkSesh's website seems to be gone...

TkSesh is a hieroglyphic database program which allows you to view and edit hieroglyphic texts, e.g. for translating. It includes a couple of texts (some Coffin Texts, steles from the Louvre Museum, The Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor, The Destruction of Mankind, etc.), and you can easily import or export hieroglyphic texts, making it easy to share texts with your colleagues. Input of new texts is easy too, because you don’t need to know MdC-encoding. TKSesh also features a dictionary, transliteration (even computer-generated) and search facilities. The hieroglyphs can't be exported as an image to be used in a word-processor (you can only export MdC-textfiles): TKSesh is a research tool, not a typesetting solution.
Old url: http://www.iut.univ-paris8.fr/~rosmord/TKSESH

OpenGlyph (by Jesus Angel Garcia Sanchez)

OpenGlyph is a Java-based database program, which uses code from JSesh. It includes all texts from TKSesh and many more.
OpenGlyph website outlink

Ancient Egyptian Texts (by M.-J. Nederhof)

An online database of Egyptian texts, which uses the AELalign format for presentation of translations, transliterations and (possibly in the future) hieroglyphs of texts. You can easily hide parts of the transliteration/translations you don’t need (e.g. if there are multiple sources for one text) and it already includes many texts from De Buck’s Egyptian Readingbook. If the Java applet doesn't work, you can view all texts in PDF-format.
Launch the database outlink

Tools to study the Ancient Egyptian language

HieroFlashCard (by M. Moglia)

HieroFlashCard is an application (Linux only!) to help beginning students of Ancient Egyptian to memorize all different phonetic signs (currently, only uniliteral and biliterals are included) or it can be used to look up a given sign when reading hieroglyphic texts.

HieroFlashCard website outlink

Other applications for working with hieroglyphic texts

Hieropreter (by C. Busch)

Hieropreter is a Java-application that tries to interpret Egyptian sentences. Input is done using transliteration or MdC code. The program will then present you different possibilities of how to interpret the Egyptian words; presenting them in the order they occur in the sentence, accompanied by a basic English translation. It uses the Beinlich Wordlist as base for the dictionary.

We do not believe that such applications are yet able to produce something useful. If you want to use Hieropreter, you should really use Manuel de Codage and not just transliterations as input, since you’ll get a lot more (unwanted) possible solutions by just using transliterations. The possibility to look up Egyptian words in the dictionary by giving an English word is however a handy feature. This gives you some kind of English to Egyptian dictionary, which might be useful if you’re translating a fragmentary papyrus and you need to fill some lacunas.
Hieropreter website outlink

AELalign and AELalight (by M.-J. Nederhof)

AELalign is a commandline Perl-script that generates HTML-pages with hieroglyphs, transliterations and translations from different XML-files. This way, you can easily compare different interpretations of a single text by different people. All translations are correctly aligned (hence its name) to the hieroglyphs and transliteration. This system is used in the Ancient Egyptian Texts database by the same author.

AELalight is a small Perlscript which helps you writing XML-files for AELalign. This can be a great timesaver if you’d like to use AELalign.

Update 18/07/2012: AELAlign is replaced by a new data format and tool, called PhilologEg: PhilololEg website outlink

Typesetting Arabic, Hebrew and Coptic

ArabTeX (by K. Lagally)

ArabTeX is a LaTeX-package for typesetting Arabic (and related scripts, even Hebrew). It has a lot of features (just take a look at the user manual outlink) for advanced typesetting, and can easily be combined with other scripts in one document (e.g. Latin, hieroglyphs, ...) using the power of Latex.

ArabTeX website outlink

CJHebrew (by C. Justen)

If you need an Hebrew font for LaTeX, you can use this package. There are a couple of LaTeX-packages with support for Hebrew (e.g. ArabTeX has also some basic support for (Modern) Hebrew), but we think CJHebrew is very well suited to typeset texts in Biblical Hebrew.

Coptic (by S. Rosmorduc)

Coptic is a LaTeX-package which adds a Coptic font to LaTeX. Together with HieroTeX and ArabTeX, you can typeset any writing system ever used in Egypt. This package is now obsolete, please install CBCoptic instead (see below).
Coptic at CTAN outlink

CBCoptic (by S. Beccari)

CBCoptic is an extended version of S. Rosmorduc's Coptic package. It includes a high quality Postscript font with an italic variant, some additional signs not found in the original Coptic package (e.g. for different dialects of Coptic) and some macro's for philological use. We highly recommend you install this package instead of Rosmorduc's older package. It is compatible with the syntax of the Coptic-package, which means that it can be used in older documents that are made with the Coptic-package: just change


in the preamble of your document into


and all textcopte{...}-commands will be recognized by CBCoptic (which uses the command textcoptic{...} for Coptic text by default). However, don't try to load both packages in the same LaTeX-document, as this won't work!
CBCoptic at CTAN outlink

TrueType fonts for hieroglyphs, transliteration and Coptic

All these fonts can be installed just like any other TrueType font, and you can use them in any application supporting custom fonts (e.g. OpenOffice outlink, Gimp outlink). If you don't know how to install additional fonts in your Linux distribution, read How_to_install_extra_fonts. There are more fonts available than those listed here, but I've only included fonts that are freely available.

Using hieroglyphic fonts in your word-processor lacks the power of real hieroglyphic typesetting using MdC-encoding: there are no advanced options like stacking or shading signs, even basic grouping is almost impossible, and selecting signs is a matter of manually searching through several different fonts. So these fonts are only suited to include a couple of signs in your document or maybe some words. If you need to include sentences or even short texts, consider using Hierowriter, Glyphomat or JSesh, which all can export hieroglyphic texts to images you can easily import in other documents.

Gardiner font / GlyphBasic (by Centre for Computer-aided Egyptological Research)

This are two sets of TrueType font files with all hieroglyphs of Gardiner’s signlist. They seem to contain the same signs, but GlyphBasic has them in another order than Gardiner font (making both fonts incompatible).
Download these fonts at Yare Egyptology outlink

Umschrift TTn (by D. Werning)

This is a transliteration font from the university of Göttingen (Germany). It is based on Times New Roman and includes normal, bold, italic and bold italic styles. It also supports multiple transliteration systems (e.g. there are different signs available for the ‘D’ (Gardiner I10)). However, the characters used to represent transliteration characters are not always the same as the ‘standard’ MdC which is used by MacScribe, HieroTex or other packages (e.g. ‘#’ for an alef instead of the more usual ‘A’, ‘o’ for ayin instead of ‘a’). This can make exchanging texts with people using other fonts a bit tricky.
Download Umschrift TTn from the website of Lingua Aegyptia outlink

Transliteration (by Centre for Computer-aided Egyptological Research)

This is the transliteration font used by WinGlyph, widely used among Egytologists. It's also the font used on many websites that include text in transliteration, making this almost a ‘must have’ for every Egyptologist. But it doesn’t contain as much signs as UmschriftTTn and it has only one style (italic) instead of the usual four styles of normal fonts.
Download this font at Yare Egyptology outlink

SPAchmim (by SBL)

A Coptic font that includes different forms of the chai and supra linear strokes for all characters.
Download this font at SBL outlink

Coptic (by Centre for Computer-aided Egyptological Research)

This is the Coptic font used by WinGlyph. There are four fonts in the zip-file you can download: two versions of one font, and another font is included twice (there are two fonts with different names but they look just the same to me).
Download these fonts at Yare Egyptology outlink

Egyptology-related cd-roms

The Egyptological Bibliography cd-rom (AEB)

If you would like to use the Egyptological Bibliography cd-rom, read here how to run the AEB cd-rom in Linux. The installation is almost as easy as it is in Windows, and the application works (almost) perfectly! Note: the AEB cd-rom is not sold anymore and is replaced by a subscription based service: Online Egyptological Bibliography outlink.

Egyptian Treasures in Europe

I recently bought a cd-rom from the Egyptian_Treasures_in_Europe series and tried to run the cd-rom in Linux. Fortunately for me, the cd-rom works quite good (allthough not yet perfectly), so I can browse some 1500 objects from our Royal Museums for Art and History in Brussels. There are cd-roms for 10 other European musea available, creating a detailed digital database of about 15.000 objects. I suppose you can buy the cd-roms also at the featured musea: I bought my copy of vol. 2 in the Brussels museum.
Note: the original webpage where you could order these cd-roms (which was part of the CCER-website) is not available anymore.

Useful links

Computer-encoding of Egyptian hieroglyphs and transliteration

If you are going to use applications for typesetting hieroglyphs (and transliteration), you will need at least some basic knowledge of the encoding used by all applications. You can find out more at these websites:

  • a description of the encoding system outlink used by all applications that deal with texts in hieroglyphs or transliteration. You need to learn the syntax of this encoding-system (called Manuel de codage or MdC) if you want to use most of the applications listed above (such as HieroTeX or Hierowriter)
  • index to the Gardiner sign list outlink
  • a short discussion of the different sign lists outlink that are used in Egyptology
  • the sign list from Hieroglyphica outlink, which contains images of about 6000 different hieroglyphs

Last updates

Added CJHebrew and fixed some errors

Sat, 28 Apr 2007 - 15:15:59 CET  [Edit ]

I've added installation instructions for CJHebrew (for those who need to typeset Hebrew words/texts) and I've removed some (possible) errors in the installation instructions for HieroTeX, Coptic and CBCoptic which I encountered when installing these 3 packages in a fresh Xubuntu 7.04 installation.

Applications update

Sun, 25 Mar 2007 - 17:43:38 CET  [Edit ]

Added installation instructions for CBCoptic (an enhanced version of S. Rosmorduc's Coptic package), removed an error in the installation instructions for the Coptic-package, and updated installation instructions for HieroTeX with a couple of other distributions (VectorLinux and SUSE Linux).

Applications update

Sat, 23 Dec 2006 - 21:20:42 CET  [Edit ]

Updated installation instruction for mdc2html and TkSesh, and added Hieropreter.

Added several installation instructions

Sat, 02 Dec 2006 - 22:41:55 CET  [Edit ]

In the past days, I've added installation instructions for mdc2html (not yet completed), res2image, ArabTeX, Coptic and Truetype-fonts, along with instructions of how to create custom application shortcuts in Gnome and XFCE.

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