From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ancient Egyptian cartouche of Thutmose III, Karnak, Egypt.
Fragment of a stela showing cartouches of Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and Aten. From Amarna, Egypt. 18th Dynasty. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

In Egyptian hieroglyphs, a cartouche /kɑːrˈtʃ/ is an oval with a horizontal line at one end, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name.[1] They came into common use during the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty under Pharaoh Sneferu, but earlier examples date to the mid Second Dynasty on Cylinder Seals of Seth-Peribsen.[2][3] While the cartouche is usually vertical with a horizontal line, it is sometimes horizontal if it makes the name fit better, with a vertical line on the left,[4] the Ancient Egyptian word for it was shenu, and it was essentially an expanded shen ring. In Demotic, the cartouche was reduced to a pair of brackets and a vertical line.

Of the five royal titularies it was the prenomen, the throne name, and the "Son of Ra" titulary,[5] the so-called nomen name given at birth, which were enclosed by a cartouche.[6]

At times amulets were given the form of a cartouche displaying the name of a king and placed in tombs, such items are often important to archaeologists for dating the tomb and its contents.[7] Cartouches were formerly only worn by Pharaohs, the oval surrounding their name was meant to protect them from evil spirits in life and after death. The cartouche has become a symbol representing good luck and protection from evil.[8] Egyptians believed that one who had their name recorded somewhere would not disappear after death. A cartouche attached to a coffin satisfied this requirement.[9] There were periods in Egyptian history when people refrained from inscribing these amulets with a name, for fear they might fall into somebody's hands conferring power over the bearer of the name.[10]


in hieroglyphs

The term cartouche was first applied by soldiers who fancied that the symbol they saw so frequently repeated on the pharaonic ruins they encountered resembled a muzzle-loading firearm's paper powder cartridge (cartouche in French).[11]

Hieroglyph use of cartouche[edit]

In the Rosetta Stone, the cartouche hieroglyph is used for the word "name", Egyptian rn,[12] for the cartouche cut in half, the "half-cartouche hieroglyph", Gardiner's sign listed no. V11, (the cartouche hieroglyph is V10), is used in the Egyptian language for words meaning: "to cut, to divide, to separate", it was the use of cartouches on the Rosetta Stone that was the biggest clue allowing Jean-François Champollion to decipher hieroglyphics.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cartouche". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  2. ^ Milano, Civiche Raccolte Archeologiche e Numismatiche inventory item RAN 997.02.01
  3. ^ "Seth (Ash) PERIBSEN / Nswt-bity PERIBSEN". Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  4. ^ "Ancient Egyptian Cartouche Lesson". Retrieved 2013-08-22. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Allen, James Peter, Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, Cambridge University Press 2000, p.65
  7. ^ cf. Thomas Eric Peet, William Leonard Stevenson Loat, The Cemeteries of Abydos. Part 3. 1912–1913, Adamant Media Corporation, ISBN 1-4021-5715-0, p.23
  8. ^ "2. Ancient Egyptian Cartouche". Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2013-08-22. 
  9. ^ "Cartouche - Ancient Egypt for Kids". Retrieved 2013-08-22. 
  10. ^ Alfred Wiedemann, Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, Adamant Media Corporation 2001, ISBN 1-4021-9366-1, pp.293-295
  11. ^ White, Jon Manchip, Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt, Courier Dover 2002, p.175
  12. ^ Budge, 1929, 1989. The Rosetta Stone, p. 124-169.

External links[edit]

  • "Cartouches" (PDF) (in Arabic). Egypt State Information Service. Archived from the original (PDF, 8.87 MB) on June 15, 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2010.