Rarely does a single piece of graffiti merit its own blog post. This morning I found one such piece of graffiti on the 4th floor, next to the ad for (subsequently reverted) Wikipedia vandalism, near the Facebook thumbs up.
Were this written at any other university, I’d figure someone was just doodling birds, eyeballs and candy canes. But this is UofC, home of the Oriental Institute, where first-years can take “Intro to Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphs” to fulfill their language requirement. Almost certainly, these had to be actual hieroglyphs.
So I printed out the photo, asked a coworker for a recommendation for an Egyptologist (naturally, he knew one) and dropped by the office of said Egyptologist. Glancing at the paper, with a chuckle he translated it off the top of his head, transliterated it, and re-wrote the text in better handwriting (the first row of hieroglyphs).
This piece of graffiti reads ỉw ỉr.n.n st m dw3t sp sn*, or, “We did it twice in the morning”. To be fair, the “it” isn’t specified– maybe they built two pyramids that morning– but I’ll leave the interpretation up to the reader.
* The dots are morpheme boundaries; the “3″ is how Wikipedia saves you from having to install a font that has the actual grapheme in a private use area, since it’s not yet part of Unicode. Seemed reasonable to me.