Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rosetta Stone

In the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a great interest in antiquities and a desire for more knowledge about ancient Egyptian history. The Rosetta Stone, one of the most famous monuments from ancient Egypt, is a slab of black basalt containing a single text in Greek and Egyptian versions.

Rosetta is a small modern Egyptian town, founded in the second half of the ninth century AD.

This broken stele was found accidentally in August 1799, by French soldiers from Napoleon’s army who were strengthening the foundations of Fort St. Julien near the town of Rosetta in the western delta of Egypt.  It was approximately 3.5 feet tall by 2.5 feet wide and bore hieroglyphics in three different types of characters, one of which was the ancient Greek alphabet.

In 1822, after many years of labor on the tablet, Jean-Francois Champollion succeeded in fully translating it when he made his break-through discovery that hieroglyphs constitute a phonetic, syllabic and alphabetic writing system and he correctly determined the phonetic values of the sings.

The text commemorates the accession to the throne of Ptolemy V Epiphanes and was composed on the ninth year of his reign. Ptolemy V promises various benefits such as gifts and reduction of texts to the temple domains of Egypt. The text was written by the priests of Egypt in 196 BC.

Champollion began to write the first Egyptian grammar, a work that unlock a treasure trove of Egyptian texts, which could at last be read after thousands of years of darkness.
Rosetta Stone

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