Friday 14 January 2011

Ancient Egyptian alphabet game tiles using Open Source design software

Louise hates word games but loves Ancient Egypt. So it seemed perfectly natural to invent a more interesting version of letters for word games using Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs!

This also allowed me to try out two Open Source design software programs, Inkscape and Scribus.

We decided to design word tiles that could be printed off and then used in a variety of word games and crosswords.

Louise provided the Egyptology expertise. There are single consonant hieroglyphs that approximate a large number of our consonants. Vowels were an issue as no one really knew how the Ancient Egyptians actually spoke. We had a, e and o possibles. There was no i or u. The consonants l, q, v and x were also missing. However, we could include SH, TH and CH as individual letters.

By making rules for substitutions or workarounds for the missing letters, we came up with a practical solution.

The actual hieroglyph tiles were then designed in the vector graphic software Inkscape. I became very familiar with the generation of shapes, the importance of nodes and vertices and how to manipulate them to create the necessary shapes.

The designs were then exported individually both as scalable vector graphics and png files.

The basic instructions with printable tiles in PDF form were then put together using the desktop publishing software Scribus.

We cut printed and cut out the tiles for our very first word game and had great fun with the challenge of adapting the available letters to our english words.

Join in the fun by downloading the PDF from
and trying out these tiles in a game of your own!

Chris Thomas, design and implementation
Louise Thomas, Egyptology consultant and games tester

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