What is Rosetta stone?
The Rosetta Stone was a stele that was discovered in 1799 near the town of Rosetta in Egypt. While working to restore old fortresses for Napoleon's invading army, Captain Pierre-François Bouchard uncovered the stone and recognized it as a valuable linguistic clue. The Rosetta stone is a slab of black basalt carved with an inscription in three alphabets.
Rosetta stone is an original portion of a larger stone or slab and when it was found, its three texts are not complete. Only the last 14 lines of the hieroglyphic text can be seen. It has 32 lines craved on it and out of it, 14 were damaged. Now the Rosetta stone is considered to be 49 inches high, but the broken part of the stone suggests that it could be in the height of 59 inches. So from the facts found from the stone, it is considered as an original stele. Stele is generally called as a wooden slab or stone that is height and wide in nature.
Memphis decree and its context
The stone was in the period of Ptolemaic dynasty and it was issued by the priests who gathered at Memphis. The Rosetta stone was originally carved in 196 BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Ptolemy V. This stele is a late example of a class of donation stele, which depicts the reigning monarch granting a tax exemption to the resident priesthood. This stele is doesn't have its origin in where it was found and possibly it was in the royal town of Sais. Ancient Egyptian temples were later used as quarries for new construction, and the Rosetta stone probably was re-used in this manner.
Rediscovery of Rosetta Stone
This stele was then rediscovered during the period of napoleon campaign. Napoleon himself inspected what had already begun to be called la Pierre de Rosette, the Rosetta stone, shortly before his return to France in August 1799. In 1800, three of the Commission's technical experts devised ways to make copies of the texts on the stone.
Rosetta stone from French to British possession:
After napoleon departure, the French troops were defeated by British in the battle. After the surrender of French troops, the dispute arose on the archeological and scientific discoveries of Egypt. But, at last the stones were transferred to British hands and how it was transferred was not very clear. The stone has been exhibited almost continuously in the British Museum since June 1802. The Rosetta stone was transferred to the sculpture gallery in 1834 shortly after Montagu House was demolished and replaced by the building that now houses the British Museum. During the world war in 1917, the museum was destructed by heavy bomb, but the stone was kept safely.
Reading the Rosetta stone
The Rosetta stone's inscription was written in both Egyptian and Greek. The Egyptian portion was written in both demotic -- a type of common, everyday alphabet -- and the more ancient and formal hieroglyphs. The discovery about the mysterious script of the stone was started by the scholars.
At the time of the Rosetta stone's inscription, both Greek and Egyptian languages were used in Egypt. Thus the earliest translations of the Greek text of the stone show the translators still struggling with the historical context and with administrative and religious jargon.
At the time of its discovery, the Sweden scholar John David was working on the script and some of the examples have been recently founded in Egypt and it is known as demotic. One of the early lithographic prints of the Rosetta stone made him to realize that the middle text was in this same script. John published an alphabet of 29 letters that he had identified from the Greek names in the demotic text.
Silvestre de Sacy who was working along with John David gave up the work on the stone and in 1811; Silvestre de Sacy considered a suggestion made by Georg Zoëga that the foreign names in Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions might be written phonetically. Silvestre de Sacy handed this work to Thomas, the young foreign secretary of the Royal Society of London. Young did so and during 1823; he confirmed this by identifying the names of pharaohs Ramesses and Thutmose written in cartouches in far older hieroglyphic inscriptions. And then, other texts were developed into a hieroglyphic dictionary.
The later work and rivalries:
Later the work was focused on understanding the full version of the text that was carved on the stone. Antoine-Jean Letronne promised to prepare a new literal translation of the Greek text for Champollion's use. The work gets stalled due to the sudden death of Champollion. Letronne was at last able to complete his commentary on the Greek text and his new French translation of it, which appeared in 1841. Then, many scholars did the research on the Rosetta stone and the fact is that and the stone words did not match with the words that were originally expected. The rivalries of this stone did not get over even after the death of young and Champollion, it continued the same. And in 1970, both the French and English visitors complained about the portrait of Champollion and young, but the real fact was that both were in the same size.
Archaeologists contributing to the Rosetta Stone Project
Books Related to Rosetta Stone
Egyptian hieroglyphics had been used by the Egyptians for thousands of years. However, a particularly bleak period of Egyptian history is the conquest of Egypt by Persia.
"Deciphering the Middle Text of the Rosetta Stone", supported by Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 2003 - 2005.
The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799 at Rashid in the Nile delta area during a military construction project.
Important archaeological Discoveries