The stone fragment that played a key role in translating hieroglyphics was found today, back in 1799! During Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovered a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria. The stone came to be known as the “Rosetta Stone” after the place where it was found.
This irregularly shaped stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic; and different languages: Greek and Egyptian. The decipherment was largely the work of Thomas Young of England and Jean-Francois Champollion of France. Since Champollion could read both Greek and Coptic script he was able to make educated guesses about what the other hieroglyphs stood for.
The Rosetta Stone that was carved in 196 B.C.E is a text written by a group of priests in Egypt to honour the Egyptian pharaoh. It lists all of the things that the pharaoh has done that are good for the priests and the people of Egypt.
The deciphering of the Rosetta Stone marked the beginning of the scientific reading of hieroglyphs and the first step toward formulation of a system of ancient Egyptian grammar, the basis of modern Egyptology.
When the British defeated Napoleon in 1801, they took possession of the Rosetta Stone and it now lays in the British Museum and is probably the most famous and celebrated possession of the museum.
The stamp depicted in the image alongside is a 2 Egyptian Pound stamp depicting the Rosetta Stone. It was a issued as a part of the series of titled “Treasures of Egypt”. It was issued on 22 January 2004.
Image Courtesy: graphics-stamps.org
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