LOST: Egyptian Hieroglyphics

On LOST last night, the episode entitled “One of Them” came to a climax where the timer hit zero and a partial display of Egyptian hieroglyphics was displayed.

It hasn’t even been 24 hours since the show as I write this, and someone has posted they’ve discovered what the symbols might mean. Check out this picture of the LOST timer glyphs posted by “onehundredeight” over on http://lost.cubit.net.

I saw this post, and took a look at a number of hieroglyphics sites on the web to see if I could get independent confirmation about what those symbols mean.

First of all, heiroglyphics can be read in several different ways. The biggest question is whether to read these symbols from right to left, or left to right. This is actually pretty easy to determine, even if you don’t have experience with hieroglyphics (and I certainly don’t). The direction the symbols are facing is the direction they should start from. So, for these symbols, you have to read them from left to right.

One of the tricky things about hieroglyphics is that even one symbol change can change the meaning of the phrase. Since we didn’t see the entire set of five glyphs, we have to keep that in mind.

Another thing to notice is that the first three symbols were on a black background, and the fourth and fifth symbols are on a red background. This may mean that there are two glyph phrases. Without the second symbol (which was never revealed), it’s difficult to know if the hidden glyph would make two distinct phrases that make sense.

The first symbol means “to cause”. The last symbol means “enemy” or “death”. Seems like a slam dunk, right? There are a couple of symbols that aren’t used, and like I said, those symbols are important.

I wasn’t able to determinate what the third symbol meant, but the fourth symbol was “the vulture”. One of the heiroglyphics sites (and I’m sorry, I don’t remember which one) described the Egyptian vulture as a bird that will repeated try and open eggs by flying over them with a rock and dropping the rock. Needless to say, this doesn’t work very well, but they continue until they succeed.

So, if we take those two symbols alone, could they mean “drop death”? “Drop death”, as in a bomb? Think about it for a minute. They’re in a hatch near a sealed chamber that’s highly magnetic. There are blast doors in the hatch. Sayid said that there may be nuclear material behind that thick wall of concrete.

Could “drop death” mean “drop a nuclear weapon”? Sure, it’s a variation on “cause death”….but, that’s my theory.

I think the real question that people are overlooking here is not what the heiroglyphics mean, but….. What the heck are Egyptian Heiroglyphics doing on that counter in the first place?

Update 02/23/06 – Read More about the Lost Heiroglyphics

Update 08/22/06 – According to the LOST writer’s themselves, the meaning is “Underworld”. The writers revealed this at this year’s San Diego Comic Con.

25 thoughts on “LOST: Egyptian Hieroglyphics”

  1. What if you change it to something like “try again, and again untill you die”
    Then it would be like the testing-human-project again..

  2. Good research… I cited your page in my own discussion of last week’s episode.

    Would you mind posting some of the sources you used to translate the hieroglyphics? (I know about Google, but I’d like to read the ones you used in drawing your conclusions…)

    Thanks, and great post…

  3. Ok, I’m not trying to disprove your theroy or anything but lets explore somethings here. You say they are Egyptian Hieroglyphics. But ya they look like it but what sense does that make? We had an American guy in there pushing the button, an Asian on the filmstrip speaking English and everything else in the hatch written in English. Why on the Timer put it in Egyptian Hieroglyphics? Point 2.. Lock never says anything, at least to our knowledge to anyone else. Was he seeing what he wanted to see? The timer may have run out, and he just wanted more time. Next. If you watch frame by frame on a DVR of the program you will see that there were different symbols on every single one then the ones that it stopped on. Why put other symbols if it is only meant to say one thing. Next. When the counter stopped you could almost hear something warming up, or getting ready to launch what ever “theroy” you prefer. Doesnt it seem that nobody else heard that. You could still hear yelling in the background. Those are the facts, draw your conclusions on what you think.
    Personally I think we saw it count down and nothing happen, nothing but locks imaganation. If there is one thing that we should know about this show is that details are everything, keep that in mind, and if you really want to see the show, get it in HD and on a DVR, you see and can analysis a lot easier. I still think they are all already dead thought πŸ™‚

  4. Watching the episode, I noticed that the hieroglyphics came in a certain order maybe you need to read the heiroglyphics in this order I am not sure, also when I slowed down the DVD I noticed that there were a number of hieroglyphics on each clicker meaning maybe the message could change every time the numbers aren’t inserted. Also did anyone notice what Locke typed to end the heiroglyphics? It would help if I knew personally I think he carried on inserting the numbers and pressed execute but then again I am not sure. Thanks.

  5. look ok? it doesnt matter what the rest of the things say, The Hanso Foundation is situated all over the world, so why cant it be egyptain hyroglyphics? and i no it is anyway, ive tryed to figure out as much as i can and all i can get is…..


    If anyone can help, please do πŸ™‚

  6. well, it there were egyptain hyroglyphics could this mean they are somewhere in egypt?
    and i believe Blaze Almighty that they are all dead but they been put on the island for a reason to finish something to complete there lives, its a suggestion

  7. i found on a website (http://www.jimloy.com/hiero/express.htm) that the 1st and 3rd symbols mean health and prosperity. Maybe the missing one could be the symbol for life?? and then maybe the vulture does mean death and that could explain why they are separated and on different coloured backgrounds?? Im so intrigued…

  8. Having looked into this last night, you can get some meaning from the first set of characters. There was an image which states that the 2nd image was a swirl, like rope, and using a dictionary which used the translation of the guy who all experts seem to believe, I got the first character to be….
    S (crook shaped thing)
    W (rope)
    Anh (knife)

    pronounced…. Swan.
    The 2nd word could be determiners, which the egyptians used to state which word they were using. Seemed rather complicated but the final character represents ‘a bound man or man with head wound’.
    I was wondering if this bunkers was Swan A, and if it hit the hieroglyphs it locked down, and you became prisoner as it were (locked in). Maybe cos something must have happened for you not to type in the numbers.

  9. You obtain the direction of Egyptian hyroglyphics by taking the reference from the text or surounding pictures. I.E on a wall in egypt a person usually looks in the direction the text is coming! The only reference to direction was the bird symbol, so what ever way the bird was facing that was the direction it had to be read from.

  10. Oh by the way donna is refering to determinatives, basically what the picture shows is what it means. The text could actually be letters or sounds instead!

  11. i think lost is all a dream and all this rubbish about numbers is silly anyway i know wat hapens in the end of lost thay are in a hospital and all the main characters are watchin jack deliver claires baby

  12. What fiona said in #10 there were blast doors in the entrance of the room which locke pointed out in case of an explosion, i think that if there is a system failure the blast doors will slam shut with the person still inside and the room explodes or toxic gas pours in or something like that.

  13. if you got to google video, and just typr lost, and got to the 3rd page. click on the video called desmond in the hatch (2nd down i think) and u will see the 2nd cymbol. its a kind of backward swirl. now do u no what it means any body???

  14. if you type lost pedia in to google your will find out EVERYTHING about lost, it says that the hyroglifs mean cause to die, and i cant begin to explain what that means but if u typ in lost pedia everything is explained! over and out!

  15. On spoilerfix.com, there are a whole set of season 3 spoilers. There is one dated 7/22 from Kristin on E!Online. It says; “…Strong implication that an underwater hatch might exist and that it might be explored this season. The producers say the hieroglyphics on the timer translate to ‘underworld’.” Not sure how much truth there is in this, as many of your theories make sense (i.e. the Swan from Fiona), but just thought this was interesting.

  16. I doubt the glyphs should be read in any different sequence as the appear on the screen – the final glyph is the determinative for ‘death’ and not read phonetically like the others in this context, but clarifies the meaning of the word (where a word with the same phonetic value might have an entirely diffenent meaning – think ‘post’ – it could mean ‘after’, ‘mail’ or ‘lamp-post’. You would only know what it really means when used in context – Egyptian glyphs don’t need context becuase the determinative does that within the word).

    The first and third symbols do mean ‘prosperity’ and ‘health’ – but traditionally are used in a different order (life, health, prosperity) so it’s probably pretty unlikely it means this.

    The third symbol is not Anh, it’s wd3 (wed-ja). Really nice idea though! The final symbol is indeed a determinative, but the vulture symbol has phonetic vaue only in Egyptian.


    The video of that bit shows that the flippy countdown thing goes through loads of glyphs on each of the five sections before stopping. Maybe it’s a random word (and following consequence?!) each time the counter reaches zero!

  17. OK in end series 2 the whole DHARMA station implodes, so you might want to forget about the glyphs. BUT>>> the reason why you have to press the button every 108 minutes is because … there was a leak of some sort of electromagnetic fluid and the magnetism builds up and gets unstable after 107.5 minutes and you have to push the button which then discharges the build up of magnetism. BUT IF YOU DON’T PUSH THE BUTTON the computer reads ‘SYSTEM FAILURE’ and the magnetism builds up too much and everything metal starts flying around, knives included, big things get crushed against walls, THE TIMER GETS CRUSHED WITH THE GLYPHS STILL ON IT, and you have to turn this key underneath the computer room reading ‘SYSTEM OVERRIDE’ which destroyes(implodes) the station with Locke and Desmond still tn it.

  18. well when i looked at the hyroglythics there is also another meaning to some of the symbols
    (sign1)means —saw— as well as —s—
    (sign2) means —100—
    i cant figure sign 3 or 5 but (sign4) means —father— as well as —a—

  19. I just noticed something….go on to youtube:


    and watch this. it repeats the sequence when locke does not enter the code. at 02.31 the hieroglyohics box is destroyed and the images are bent. however, the final heiroglyphic (while being bent flicks) – i cannot see what it is but it is certainly different from what it was. What could this mean?

  20. Hi. Like you I am now expert on hieroglyphics but I did try to learn them once as as far as I remember the symbols represent sounds rather than ideas. For example the vulture is the symbol for the sound “ah” Looking at them like that, do they take on another meaning?

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