Dinosaurs in Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs – Explained
There are a few websites and youtube videos on the internet where people are claiming the Ancient Egyptians depicted dinosaurs in the hieroglyphs. Some even go further and use this to claim the Ancient Egyptians lived with certain species of dinosaurs. This is one of the pictures used by those who make such a claim:
This picture is from the sarcophagus of anx ns nfr ib ra Ankhnesneferibre of the 26th Dynasty circa 586-525 BC. discovered at Deir El-Medina on display at the British Museum. Another picture of the sarcophagus depicting Ankhnesneferibre herself:
The glyph is claimed to represent a pre-historic creature called Plesiosaur:
What does the glyph really represent?
The glyph is actually a depiction of a specie of bird prepared for an offering or meal. The actual glyph is listed in Gardiner’s Sign List as (G54). This glyph is used to represent the phonetic sound snD which means “to fear, to respect.” Here are some variations and meanings:
snD – fear
snDi – fear, respect
snDw – timid man, frightened man
snDt – fear, nightmare, bad dream
It is used as a determinative in words such as wshn “ushen” which means “to twist/break the neck.” You can also find this glyph used in The Prophecies of Nefertari line 62-63 which state: wAyw r Dwt kAyw sbiw sxr.n.sn rw.sn n snDw.f – “Those who fell into evil and plotted rebellion have lowered their voices for fear of him.” It became known as the “trussed goose” glyph due to modern applications of consuming various birds where buying and preparing chicken, duck, turkey, etc from the market, they are usually trussed – their wings and legs bound or tied. There is also the Trussed Goose Palette dating from circa 3000 BC that is located in the British Museum. The Ancient Egyptians are known for eating various fowls such as cranes, ducks, geese, quails, etc. Therefore the glyph represents a specie of bird prepared for offering or meal. There are many depictions various birds in different positions for offerings found on temple walls and tombs in Egypt to confirm this. Here is a picture of a trussed bird without neck and head:
Here is another picture of an offering depicting birds in various positions. You can see the bird on the left has been plucked:
Here is a picture of birds being offered before being plucked etc:
Here is a picture of one of Queen Nefertiti’s daughters in a partly carved relief decoration at El-Amarna enjoying a bird. Note the partial wings, partial legs, and the “notch” in the belly of the bird:
Here is an image of a funerary stone slab circa 945-715 BC that shows food offerings to the “deity” on the left – Ra Horakhty Atum. In the center, we see the prepared bird with its wings, legs, neck, and head intact. Also notice the “notch” in the belly of the bird:
The above pictures are just some of the examples used to show the everyday lifestyle as it relates to eating and preparing birds for food or offerings. Going back to the claim of the glyph being a pre-historic creature – Plesiosaur, one explanation that has been offered is the glyph represents a lizard, hence the claim that it is a Dinosaur (“terrible lizard”). This claim can be ruled out due to the fact in order to perceive it to be a lizard, one would have to assume what is the neck and head of the bird is a tail and the glyph is facing the opposite direction. In other words, those who make this claim are not familiar with the direction in which the hieroglyphs should be read which is from the direction the glyphs are facing. Here is another picture of a different section of the text of the sarcophagus where we see the glyph and those around it are facing toward the right which indicates the glyphs are to be read from the Right toward Left (read into the facing of the glyphs). The glyph circled in yellow is G54 and the text surrounding this glyph reads: snD.n.f nTrw imitw Hwt aAt – “He respects the Neteru amidst the great temple.”
Here is another picture of the glyph from a different section of the sarcophagus. Notice the “notch” in the belly of the bird:
The glyph is not the Plesiosaur which historically, died out aprox. 65 million years ago and did not live along side the Ancient Egyptians.
The glyph is not a lizard because what would be perceived as the tail is actually facing the other direction and is the neck and head of a specie of bird.
We see in other Egyptian art where offerings were made to Kings and “Deities” related to various birds who are seen in the exact same position as the glyph.
Linguistically, the glyph represents the phonetic sndj and means “to fear.” It is also used as a determinative in words such as “ushen” which means “to twist/break the neck.” On the sarcophagus, we read such phrases as “know/acknowledge Neter – fear of his Neteru” etc.
This claim should be abandoned for lack of supporting evidence and demonstration. People who assert this claim ignore the historical, linguistic and cultural lifestyle of Ancient Egyptians, and certainly ignore the fact that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. If the Ancient Egyptians were trying to depict a dinosaur as one of its glyphs to communicate, one would have to ask, why aren’t other more fearful and impressionable dinosaurs used as well. Why would they use crocodiles as beasts of prey instead of the Tyrannosaurus Rex etc.