Mast (hieroglyph)

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Ship's Mast
in hieroglyphs
hieroglyph #2
in hieroglyphs

The ancient Egyptian ship's mast hieroglyph is one of the oldest language hieroglyphs from Ancient Egypt. It is used on a famous label of Pharaoh Den of the First dynasty, but forms part of the location hieroglyph: Emblem of the East.

Nectanebo II's obelisk uses the ship's mast hieroglyph when describing the construction of his obelisk; in a S-Egyptian emphatic word construct he adds a vertical S, the folded cloth, Gardiner no. S29,
, at the beginning of the word "to erect". (see here, high res: [1], low res: [2])

The hieroglyphic language equivalent of the mast is 'ḥ'[clarification needed] and means "to stand erect", or "to stand vertical"; its use is extensive throughout the language history, and hieroglyphic tomb reliefs and story-telling of Ancient Egypt. It is possibly a forerunner hieroglyph kh3, the sun rising upon the horizon.

Ship's Mast on label of Pharaoh Den, 1st Dynasty.

In the 198 BC Rosetta Stone, the ship's mast hieroglyph has the unique usage in the final line of the Ptolemy V decree: the mast is used twice-(adjective, verb):

engrave the decree..: "...upon a vertical-(mast) stone stele" the 3-language scripts, .."Shall be made to stand it in the sanctuaries in temples all..."

See also[edit]


  • Budge. An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, E.A.Wallace Budge, (Dover Publications), c 1978, (c 1920), Dover edition, 1978. (In two volumes) (softcover, ISBN 0-486-23615-3)
  • Budge. The Rosetta Stone, E.A.Wallace Budge, (Dover Publications), c 1929, Dover edition(unabridged), 1989. (softcover, ISBN 0-486-26163-8)