Friday, January 28, 2011

Rosetta Stone

The British Museum houses the Rosetta Stone. The stone dates to almost two centuries BC. In it (as many of you may already know) is written a decree in three languages. At the top, the decree is found in traditional Egyptian hieroglyphics. Then, in the middle it is written in demotic which is the language the literate Egyptians used at the time. Finally, at the bottom the same decree is written in ancient Greek, which was the language used by the government. The stone, or the piece of it that remains, has provided the key to understanding ancient hieroglyphics. Thus, opening a door to understanding ancient Egyptian culture.
The Rosetta Stone was first discovered by Napoleon's army on an expedition to Egypt and copies of it were sent around the world. It trigger the interest of scholars because it holds a key to the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The British Army defeated the French in the early 1800s and the stone was sent to London where it has been in public display for over one hundred years!
I was looking at it for a long time as if I knew how to read it. I attempted to take in the detail with which it was crafted. The carefully molded hieroglyphics and the clearly written words are a definitely worthy of amazement, not to mention the fact that they can in fact be understood now. It is amazing that after more than two millenniums it can literally still be read. Of course, I could not understand a word of what it says, but I wish I could (by reading it directly on the stone without translation)!


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