The Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone is an ancient stone that is covered with carved writing in two different languages and using three scripts or types of writing. The writing is in Egyptian and Greek, and three script types are hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek. The size of the Rosetta Stone is 3' 9" x 2' 4" x 0' 11".
Each of the scripts are the same scripts that were used in Egypt. The hieroglyphic script was often used for important writings or for religious documents. The demotic script was the most common script used at the time. Finally, the Greek script and language was reserved for use by the rulers of Egypt.
It was written using the various scripts and languages so that the priest, government officials, and the rulers of Egypt could read what it said. The stone was made in 196 B.C., but was not found until 1799 by some French soldiers who were rebuilding a fort in Egypt. It was found in a small village in the Delta called Rashid but translates to Rosetta, the origin of its name.
The text on the Rosetta Stone was written by a group of priests in Egypt who wanted to honor the Egyptian pharaoh, a leader or ruler of Egypt. It includes a list of the good things the ruler did for the priests and the people of Egypt.
It too several hundred years for the text on the stone to be translated. There were many people who worked on translating the text, but the person who is most credited with deciphering the text was a French scholar named Jean-Francois Champollion in 1822. The stone is only a fragment of the original and some of the hieroglyphics were cut off in mid-sentence, which made it even more difficult to translate.
He spent many years trying to interpret the text by using other examples of known text of ancient Egyptian writing. He could read both Greek and Coptic languages and was able to decode the seven demotic signs which were written in Coptic. He could figure out what each of the signs stood for. He then made educated guesses to decipher the entire text of the Rosetta Stone.
The date on the stone was translated to be March 27, 196 B.C. Champollion translated two of the names of the pharaohs too, Ramesses and Thutmose. Because of the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone, it also helped experts translate other ancient Egyptian writings that were previously unknown.
Other people spent their entire lives trying to decipher the texts. The Rosetta Stone belongs to the British and is currently in the British Museum and it is one of the most visited exhibits and one of its most important in the museum.
In 2003, the Egyptians wanted countries throughout the world to return some of the Egyptian antiquities (relics or remains from the past) that had been removed from the country over the years. Many of these artifacts were held in French and British museums. In 2005, the British Museum gave Egypt an exact replica (copy) of the stone and it is currently displayed in the Rashid National Museum, close to the location where the stone was originally found.
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