"Western scholars were not the first to decipher the ancient language of the pharaohs, according to a new book that will be published later this year by a UCL researcher.
Dr Okasha El Daly of UCL?s Institute of Archaeology will reveal that Arabic scholars not only took a keen interest in ancient Egypt but also correctly interpreted hieroglyphics in the ninth century AD ? almost 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.
The breakthrough in Dr El Daly?s research came from analysis of the work of Abu Bakr Ahmad Ibn Wahshiyah, a ninth century alchemist. Ibn Wahshiyah?s work on ancient writing systems showed that he was able to correctly decipher many hieroglyphic signs. Being an alchemist not a linguist, his primary interest was to identify the phonetic value and meaning of hieroglyphic signs with the aim of accessing the ancient Egyptian scientific knowledge inscribed in hieroglyphs. "
I was inter alia interested in the fact that according to a French newspaper issued yesterday in Paris and other WWW sources El Daly discovered that Arabs knew that Egyptian hieroglyphics could too represent sounds.