About PHRP

The Polychrome Hieroglyph Research Project

Université Libre de Bruxelles - Faculté de Philosophie et Sciences sociales

This website was created by Dr David Nunn, visiting researcher at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.

It aims to provide free access to a database of polychrome hieroglyphs, allowing researchers and interested amateurs to examine in detail the canonical use of colours in hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Researchers interested in participating in this work (for instance by incorporating their own data into the database) are kindly requested to contact me for details about how this could be achieved. The expansion of the database would indeed be beneficial to all researchers. Any questions, remarks or suggestions may be emailed to this address: contact me

The database was originally created in MS Access as a stand alone research tool for use in my PhD. On completion of the latter, it soon became clear that the Egyptological community could benefit from an online, multi-platform and multi-user application that allows access to the data. I have, therefore, undertaken a complete revision of the database and its conversion and migration to a MySQL platform. The corpus is composed of images and descriptions of individual hieroglyphs collected from inscriptions known here as "Monuments". These samples of images and descriptions are referred to here as "Occurrences". Please note that in a number of cases there is as yet no photographic image of a particular Occurrence. This is to be found especially in the earliest Monuments where only the description of the colours used is available. Should you wish to view these Occurrences, please access them via the Monuments or the Periods pages.

In most cases, only one Occurrence is recorded for each sign on a Monument. Should a significant variant be found on the same Monument, both signs are recorded as Occurrences. The most representative and/or the best preserved Occurrence of a sign (from all Monuments) is selected as an "Exemplar" which is then automatically included in the Palaeography, along with a detailed description which includes the use of colours and their probable signification. Several Exemplars of the same sign can be chosen, where two or more significant variants exist. Commentaries on the Exemplars are limited to the individual hieroglyphs. Notes of a more general nature, pertaining for instance to a group of similar signs, can be found at the beginning of each group section in the Palaeography.

In order to provide an indication of the statistical relevance of the exemplars, a star rating system has been applied. The number of occurrences in the database has been combined with the presence or absence of significant variants to produce a scale of one to five stars, allocated according to the following criteria:
* only 1 occurrence.
** from 2 to 5 occurrences, but with significant variants.
*** from 2 to 5 occurrences, without significant variants.
**** more than 5 occurrences, but with significant variants.
***** more than 5 occurrences, without significant variants.

I would like to offer my thanks to all those who took the time to test and comment on this website. A special mention goes to Dr Eythan Levy of Tel Aviv University for his detailed remarks and suggestions.