Due to their iconicity, Egyptian hieroglyphs can (and have to) be linked to iconogra- phy. Epigraphy and iconography indeed have to be analysed in terms of a shared semiology, these two media being two faces of the same intellectual and produc- tive process. The Egyptian image can thus be explained by texts, and texts can be illustrated by image. Each of these figurative productions can be considered a “lan- guage-game” as theorised by L. Wittgenstein.
We will see through diverse examples from the third millennium B.C. that the boundaries between scriptural and pictorial practices were particularly fuzzy.
First, examples of the similarity of classifier groups and iconography will be pre- sented. The case of the “dissimilation graphique” is in this connection especially illustrative. A group of classifiers is said to be “dissimilated” when every sign that composes it is distinct from the others, contrary to our expectation for two or three identical hieroglyphs. These groups, already noteworthy in their own right, some- times find an exact reflection in iconography.
Next I will briefly talk about offering lists, in particular the fowls included in these lists. The fowls usually appear in a group of five and are sometimes accompanied by “unique” classifiers that are supposed to represent them directly. The connection between image and text is direct, but we’ll also see that some scenes showing diverse birds depict the same group of five fowls, allowing for better observation of the represented species. In these cases, images make it possible not only to better understand texts but also to grasp the Egyptians’ perception of entities in their environment and, ultimately, the lexicalisation of these entities.
The inclusion of figurative signs in the iconography and in the epigraphy of An- cient Egyptian decoration are parts of a single process. So, they must be studied based on both of these aspects and must use similar methods.