Non-Textual Marking Systems In Ancient Egypt

This project is a long-term cooperation between Egyptologists from the University of Warsaw and Humboldt University in Berlin. The focus is on non-textual marking systems (NTMS) in Ancient Egypt and adjacent areas. Non-textual marking systems like pot marks, masons’ marks, hallmarks, seals and tags are known from many cultures and periods. They all encode information concerning a person, a group of persons, an institution or a place that is in one way or another closely connected with the marked object (e.g. indicating an owner, producer, visitor, or place of origin). Even though such marks may be formally identical with elements of writing (and sometimes—but not necessarily—they can even be read) they occur regardless of whether or not the particular community has a script. Therefore, they should be treated as a different type of symbol system, which in contrast to writing is not based on organized relations between graphic signs and linguistic elements but rather on direct relations between objects and persons or institutions.

The main focus of the project is on the use and functions of personal marks, pot marks, masons’ marks, and the relationships between NTMS and writing. Sign corpora are being collected and a database is being designed as a basis for research in a broader diachronic and diatopic context.

Interested parties can visit the website here.