29th August 1997 at 01:00
Tut Tut

The British Museum Pounds 16.95

From the British Museum gift shop and other museum, gift and toy shops nationwide


Pack of 72 multi-coloured hieroglyph cards, 24 English alphabet cards, four sets of counters, and a brave attempt to emulate the Rosetta Stone by condensing a hieroglyph translation on to an easy-wipe card and an abridged ancient Egyptian dictionary.

Who can play

Two to four people from age 8 upwards, of almost any linguistic ability, though as ancient Egyptian inscriptions relied almost exclusively on consonants, children who have been over-exposed to the Teletubbies and not yet learnt to modify a gutteral screech with a helpful vowel might have a distinct advantage.


On a very rainy day, when the TV has been repossessed, the children have invited their friend Damien over and you can't get hold of an exorcist.

What happens

Four card games of varying levels of complexity, which involve spotting and matching hieroglyphs and letters. The simplest is Tut Tut. All 96 playing cards are divided in half, the Egyptian ones have a symbol at the top and a couple of symbols forming a hieroglyph word at the bottom, and the English ones have one or two letters on both halves. Once the cards have been dealt, players take it in turns to turn over a card and when one spots that two letters or glyphs match the shout "Tut!" and claim whatever pile has accumulated.

Sound familiar? If they notice that two symbols on the top half form a word on one of the bottom halves, they also get to shout "Tut!" But if they have cruelly deceived themselves, their opponent can counter with "Tut Tut!" and win the stash and sound like Frankie Howerd.

The truly persistent can indulge in a spot of translation by pairing the hieroglyphs with their English equivalent letters, hence the easy-wipe translation card. There are three other games (one of which rejoices in the splendidly onomatopoeic name of Ankhst), all of which involve spotting and pairing to win tricks and counters and which are, essentially, over-complicated versions of rummy or snap.

Value for money

As it is only likely to interest Howard Hughes types, the price is immaterial.

Educational potential

If nothing else, children will learn why the Egyptians had the good sense to abandon hieroglyphics when the Greeks arrived. Prolonged playing, however, will only expose them to too many Anglo-Saxon expletives.

Star rating: *

*** Must have

** Rainy-day stand-by

* Emergencies only

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