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Deciphering the Rosetta Stone

1815

Deciphering the Rosetta Stone

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  • Intro

    The meanings behind Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were a mystery to scholars in the West - until the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone, that is. Egyptologists were able to decode the writing on the stone because, uniquely, its inscription is written in three parallel languages: everyday script; the official language, Greek; and those mysterious hieroglyphs. The stone was discovered by Napoleon's army in 1799 in Rashid (Rosetta) in Egypt, and has been displayed in the British Museum since 1802.

     

    This page shows English scholar Thomas Young's deciphering work-in-progress in the late 1810s. He identified groups of glyphs that spelt out the name 'Ptolemy' phonetically, and so worked out their sound-values. Through the subsequent work of Jean-François Champollion in France, the hieroglyphic puzzle was finally solved.

     

    Shelfmark: Add. MS 27281, f. 41

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