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Origin of the hieroglyphs
If the writers of the show used Egyptian hieroglyphs intentionally, there must be an explanation within the story as to why they appear. I can't and won't profess any knowledge of ancient Egypt or its culture, so please excuse me if my theory misses key historical realities.
The Island was inhabited by a society or civilization in ancient times. They built the Temple, the Ruins, the Four-toed statue, the Frozen wheel, and likely a great deal more. On many if not all of these remnants, we see hieroglyphs.
Eloise Hawking told us there are pockets of energy around the world acting as doorways to the Island. There is one such pocket in Tunisia, as those using the frozen wheel are transported off the Island into Tunisia. The Island may have come to be populated in ancient times by a society of peoples using the pocket of energy in Tunisia as a doorway to the Island. Now here is where I'm going out on a limb. The proximity of Tunisia to Egypt is near-ish. It's not too much to imagine that those traveling to the Island via Tunisia may have had contact with ancient Egyptian culture, language and writing. Indeed, they may have themselves been Egyptian.
- It's HIGHLY possible that the Egyptians came FROM the Island to North Africa sometime in the past, possibly for reasons yet disclosed. (In another time shift) And that the Island is the origin of the original Egyptian Gods/Goddesses, which are people or persons removed from the Island.
Meaning of hieroglyphs
- The phonetic translation "swda" seems to translate into "die" or "to die" or "it dies".
- Faulkner's translation indicates the causative form of "swda", which could mean "Cause to die" or "Make someone die" or "The cause of death" or "To kill". *Turn the last glyph upside down, and look at the word from a distance. It seems to almost spell "death."
- The phonetics could also be "suda" which means "fortress/stronghold" in Latin. This might be a reference to the blast doors.
- There are more symbols that are only seen flipping by. One of them may be the symbol for "child" (a recurring theme in the show) or for "eat, drink, speak, think, feel", another may represent "knife". No phonetic transliteration is given in the source.
- In any attempt to translate Hieroglyphics the kingdom they represent is imperative. It makes the difference between understanding each glyph as an idea or a phonetic value. Phonetically, reading right to left because this is the direction in which the Kite faces, you get "OATCHAUS". I would site Dr. Budge and his many books on Hieroglyphics. Whether you look at this as a transliteration to English or Egyptian I can find no such name or word. If you look at it as first period, in other words each glyph as an idea, there exists more cohesive thought. Glyph five, the staff looking one, is defined as Calamity or Disaster. Figure four, the Kite is a bird of prey. Figure three is a Fire stick or drill. Figure two is a measure, cord, or the number 100. The first figure or bolt of cloth is described as a causative. In this form Hieroglyphics must be understood on an emotional level. Here the thoughts lead to a disaster that peruses. The fire stick measures the cause. In other words it is a warning of impending calamity. The fire stick would obviously refer to what ever magnetic producing apparatus hides behind the concrete bunkers and stands in need of attention every 108 minutes. The measure and causative figures could speak to the 108 minutes and insinuate that failure to understand the measures (need to push the button in the allotted time limit) will cause the calamity depicted by the fifth figure. Taken as ideas it makes more sense, unless someone knows what a "OATCHAUS" is. Hototo
Usage of Hieroglyphs
- The DHARMA Initiative may use Egyptian hieroglyphs, as hieroglyphs are studied by its members.
- The translation of the symbols is only part of the clue - there might be other, secondary meanings:
- The symbols may have a second meaning if you take them one by one - either the symbolic meaning (eg "health" or literal meaning "folded cloth")
- In addition to the other theories the glyphs match up very closely with the apollo naming system of the stations. We can clearly see the swan (cygnus), the arrow (sagitta), the flame (or what people think is the rocket, apollo), the crow (corvus), and possibly the snake handler (one of the passing images, Orphiuchus). Could this possibly be swan linking up with other stations when the timer isn't reset?
- They may have a double meaning that goes with the theory about star constellations listed in the article on the Swan
- The hieroglyphs in the Hatch may hint at a countermeasure Alvar Hanso had put in place against Thomas Mittlewerk or any similar threat to DHARMA. The producer's stated the meaning of the hieroglyphs as "Underworld", and the mythological Persephone had many ties to the underworld. A literal translation of the hieroglyphs is "She rises to the sky in flames || He dies". This also seems to vaguely hint at Persephone's mythological ties, but this may also hint at Alvar taking countermeasures against threats to the program somehow through Rachel Blake. This could all be a coincidence, though, as there are many things that also point to the "underworld" concept pertaining to the Monster.
- If Faux Henry (Ben Linus) knew about the timer from another hatch, perhaps the code in this hatch was different to the one in the Swan. Instead of entering 4 8 15 16 23 42, he may have added the default code from his own station into the Swan's computer, which may also have initiated the supply drop.
- Could also explain the appearance of the other hieroglyphs - different hatches with different codes could activate different messages and options (assuming each hatch has a computer and a code to input), e.g Swan = timer = prevent anomaly (also possible disguise of the Island from the supposed "outside world", as suggested by other Lostfans to explain the bright violet "aurora-like" light during the discharge in "Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1"), Faux Henry's hatch = possible food drops (could also activate a lockdown of the apparently fake Station being guarded by the Others), etc etc
- Hieroglyphs in another station could have been misinterpreted as "Good Ones" - making the Others believe they really are the "good ones" (Unlikely as we don't know anyone with the ability to read ancient Egyptian script).
- May have a question and answer relation to a system failure. If the intended translation of the hieroglyphs is in fact "cause to die", when they all click in, the electromagnetic field begins to expand rapidly. Concerning this, the cause of death would equal a system failure. Cause of Death=System Failure.
- May make an alternative word if placed in a different order. In "Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1", as the discharge rips the countdown timer apart, you can see that all the symbols are actually on each of the five reels. Therefore, perhaps a different circumstance or input will result in a different hieroglyphic message.
- The producers stated that the glyphs are symbols of the "underworld". They may actually be referring to the underground conduits mentioned on the BLD and seen when Locke is nearly sucked into that hole by the smoke monster. The underworld could be how the Monster moves around or perhaps an underground travel method for the DHARMA people. The glyphs may represent the magnetic build-up or the-like in this underworld. The existence of this underworld is substantiated by the fact that all the hatches have power which likely comes from a central place, perhaps the Swan. As well, the Staff has an escape hatch and the Swan did before the incident which may lead into these conduits.