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The Rosetta Stone is a stone engraved with three languages “hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek”, It was the key of uncovering the mystery of the hieroglyphs. The stone is named after the city where it was found, Rosetta (Rashid) which is a port city of the Nile Delta in Egypt.
Description of the Rosetta Stone
- It is a monument made of granodiorite, irregular in shape, approximately 113 cm high, 75 cm wide, and 27.5 cm thick.
- The stone is from the city of Memphis (Badrashin Center, Giza Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt).
- The Rosetta Stone was engraved by priests from the city of Memphis in 196 BC, to thank King Ptolemy V for exempting the temples from paying some fees, and as a souvenir after he was crowned the king of Egypt.
- The decree engraved was divided into three sections, in three different languages:
The first section: was inscribed in hieroglyphics (the language of the ancient Egyptians “Pharaohs”), the official language used by the priests of the temples.
The second section: was inscribed in the Demotic language (the Coptic language), the language used by the common people.
The third section: was inscribed in the Greek language (the Greek language), the language used by the rulers of Egypt.
An article about Hieroglyphs
An article about Coptic language
The discovery of the Rosetta Stone and its name origin
- The Rosetta Stone was discovered during the French campaign led by Napoleon Bonaparte against Egypt in 1798 AD, which continued to extend as far as the city of Rosetta (in Beheira Governorate, far north of Egypt).
- The Rosetta stone was found by a French soldier, named (Pierre François Bouchard), in 1799 AD.
- It is called the Rosetta Stone because it was found in the city of Rosetta.
- The one who decoded the Rosetta Stone is the French oriental scientist (Jean-Francois Champollion), who is also known as “Champollion le jeune”.
The importance of the Stone
- The ancient Egyptian language “hieroglyphs” has disappeared in the fourth century AD, as a result the ancient Egyptian civilization remain mysterious.
- The discovery of the Rosetta Stone during the French campaign contributed to identifying the hieroglyphic language, decoding its symbols, and reviving it, what made the process easier was that the stone was divided into three sections in three languages (hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek). When it was discovered, scientists were still able to read the ancient Greek language, which contributed greatly to the possibility of decoding the hieroglyphic language.
- Thus, the Rosetta Stone had a major role in revealing the ancient Egyptian civilization, the “Pharaonic civilization”, and the development of Egyptology.
The location of the Rosetta Stone
- After defeating the French and destroying their fleet in Egypt, a treaty was signed between the British and the French, known as the Capitulation of Alexandria 1801 AD.
- The French troops returned to France on British ships, and the French campaign against Egypt ended.
- According to the terms of the treaty that was signed, the British seized the stone, and transported it to their country
- The Rosetta Stone has now been in the British Museum, London, United Kingdom since 1802 AD.