Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Rosetta Stone

ANCIENT EGYPT- As students of history it is important to understand why it is that we are fascinated with the past. We are attracted by the enigma. We long to understand and relate to the people of the ancient world, our own ancestors. It amazes us to think that it was hands like our own that built great monuments and fought epic wars.
I thought it would be appropriate for the first entry in this blog to be about a topic that was a groundbreaking discovery in the field of history. Something that truly gave the modern world a window into the past. The Rosetta Stone was one of the most important historical and archaeological discoveries of all time. While cruising around the BBC's website I found a concise and edifying article on the subject.

"In the summer of 1798, the antiquities of ancient Egypt came under particular scrutiny when Napoleon Bonaparte despatched a team of historians, scientists and draughtsmen to follow in the wake of his invading army. In 1799, these French scholars encountered the single most famous slab of stone in the history of archaeology, found by a troop of French soldiers stationed at Fort Julien in the town of Rosetta on the Nile Delta..."

The Rosetta Stone was carved in 196 B. C. E. On it was inscribed the same document in three scripts: Greek, Heiroglyphic, and demotic. Egyptian heiroglyphs were thought to be merely symbolic pictures even after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. It was not until 1822 when Jean-Francois Champollion cracked the stone's code that people realized the heiroglyphs were phonetic. This finding opened a doorway to a more thourough understanding of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Read the article.

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