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Rosetta Stone

Updated on November 5, 2011
 

When I first encountered the term Rosetta stone, I thought it was a precious stone, like a diamond or something of the kind. Hoo boy, was I sooo wrooong...

Rosetta stone is an artifact they discovered in Egypt. It had become a significant part of Ancient Egyptian studies because this stone basically made it possible for Egyptologists to understand hieroglyphs and eventually made further studies of Egyptology possible.

Brief History

During the Middle Ages (from about A.D. 500 ‘til the 1500s) and the Renaissance period (between about the 1500s ‘til 1800s), European scholars were interested to study and explore Egypt. But their interests were thwarted due to its inaccessibility.

1798 The modern study of ancient Egypt started this year by the French military expedition, led by Napoleon Bonaparte. They found Institut de l'Egypte in Cairo. They then brought 167 scientists and archaeologists to study the artifacts there.

1799 A stone made of basalt was discovered near Rosetta, a place near Rashid, Egypt. The stone was irregularly shaped; it is an ancient Egyptian artifact with inscriptions. French army engineer Captain Pierre-François Bouchard discovered the stone. He understood that it was an important find so they sent it to Institut de l'Egypte. After Napoleon Bonaparte returned to France, the scholars remained there to study the stone and many other artifacts that remained in Egypt.

1801 The French surrendered Egypt to Britain. There had been several disputes, however, over the handover of the stone and many other archaeological finds in the country.

1802 The Rosetta stone was finally surrendered to the British. It was displayed in the British Museum where it still remains.

Hieroglyph Alphabet

The discovery of Rosetta stone had provided the knowledge of ancient Egyptian history and civilization. The uncovering of this stone had become the foundation of modern Egyptology. Rosetta stone is a multilingual stele that allowed linguists to understand and eventually able to decipher hieroglyphs. Stele means a carved or inscribed stone slab or pillar used for commemorative purposes. The inscriptions were written in two languages, Egyptian and Greek, in three scripts; 2 Egyptian scripts, Hieroglyphs and Demotic, and Greek. It was created and carved in 196 BC. The inscriptions were written by the priests of Memphis, summarized benefactions conferred by Ptolemy V Epiphanes (205-180 BC) and were written in commemoration of his accession to the throne.

The decipherment of the stone was largely the work of Thomas Young (1773 - 1829), physician and physicist, of England and Jean-François Champollion (1790 - 1832), Egyptologist, of France. The work of these two men established the basis for the translation of all future Egyptian hieroglyphic texts.

1814 Thomas Young finished translating the Demotic script and began working on the hieroglyphics of the Rosetta stone. Young discovered the way in which hieroglyphics signs were to be read. He was meticulous even about where the direction of the characters faced.

1821 - 1822 Jean-François Champollion published papers on the decipherment of hieratic and hieroglyphic writing based on the study of the Rosetta stone. It later established an entire list of signs of their Greek equivalents. He was the first Egyptologist to realize that some of the signs were alphabetic, some syllabic, and some determinative. He also established that the hieroglyphic text of the Rosetta stone was a translation from the Greek.

1822 - 1824 Jean-François Champollion extended his works on the Rosetta stone translation. He could read both Greek and Coptic and had somehow figured out what some of those signs meant. Most of his translations were based on guesses based on his knowledge of Greek, Coptic, Hieroglyphs, and Hieratic.

1858 Three undergraduate students of the University of Pennsylvania; Charles R Hale, S Huntington Jones, and Henry Morton published the first complete English translation of the Rosetta stone.

1972 Rosetta stone was exhibited for one month at the Louvre Museum in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the decipherment of hieroglyphic writings by Jean-François Champollion.

2003 The Egyptian government, headed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, demanded the return of the Rosetta stone.

2005 The British Museum sent him a replica of the Rosetta stone.

Description of the Rosetta stone

Height is about 3 feet 7 inches 2 centimeters. Width is about 2 feet 3 inches 5 centimeters. Thickness is less than 1 foot or about 10 inches 9 centimeters. Weight is about 760 kilograms. Color is dark blue-pinkish-grey. The complete English translation is about 1600 words in length and is about 20 paragraphs long.

Rosetta stone Software

Rosetta stone software is a language-learning software that is an allusion to the historical Rosetta stone. The name Rosetta stone was used for this software because of its famous involvement with language translation. This software utilizes a combination of texts, images, and sounds. The developers of this software used Dynamic Immersion Method to teach foreign language. This method uses the teaching method on how we learned our first language as children, using images and sounds to help you understand the new language.

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    • WeddingConsultant profile image

      WeddingConsultant 9 years ago from DC Metro Area

      At first I thought this was going to be a hub on the Rosetta stone software that helps people learn languages, but I see now that it's much more! Great read, thank you.

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 9 years ago from DC Area

      LOL I was as ignorant as WC - I too though it was about software :) You got me!

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 9 years ago

      Sorry guys. I didn't get a lot of information about the software.

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 9 years ago from DC Area

      Nothing to be sorry about :)

    • tranndee profile image

      tranndee 9 years ago

      You know, this was a very interesting hub. I especially like that you had the entire Greek and Egyptian alphabets. Ironically, we just finished covering Greek, Roman and Egyptian history for our latest homeschool session, but the kids got a kick out of looking at and comparing the alphabets.

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 9 years ago from Around the USA

      The Rosetta Stone was a miracle find. Without it, we probably never would have known much about ancient Egypt.

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 9 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      When I first saw the Rosetta Stone up close I stood in awe. I am by hobby a linguist, and I wondered at the ability to discover "lost" languages via this broken stone. It is large, and at the time one could get up right close to it - I don't know if that's still possible anymore.

      However, it stirred my interest once more in ancient history and languages, and I am grateful it was saved and not defaced, as may have been the custom back then.

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 9 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm sure it was an educational and an awesome experience.

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 8 years ago from North Carolina

      The Hieroglyps look cool. I am amazed how the English language evolved from all these different cultures.

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 8 years ago

      Well, I am amazed why people from different cultures easily accept English as second language.

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 8 years ago

      This is a great hub, I really like the Hieroglyph Alphabet, awsome stuff.

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 8 years ago

      Hi RA, I really enjoyed that you like it. Thanks. ;)

    • profile image

      Hazel Catilogo 7 years ago

      Im not an egyptologoist but i know i remember all of this!

      i know i red it somewhere...In a book i mean!

      This is an ancient egyptian writing!

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 7 years ago

      Hi Hazel, thanks for coming by.

    • gymerie profile image

      gymerie 7 years ago from USA

      How interesting! I love when people come up with something new to research that I haven't even thought about!

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 7 years ago

      Hi Gymerie, thanks for coming by. Glad you've found this interesting. :)

    • profile image

      Joel 7 years ago

      Excellent overview of the historical significance of the famous Rosetta Stone. Great job...

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 7 years ago

      Hi Joel, thanks for coming by and for leaving nice comment. :)

      By the way, thanks also for leaving the link about Rosetta Stone Replica Project. I'll be reading more of it. Cheers.

    • profile image

      daytripeer 7 years ago

      This hub and others you write will be read quite a few times by me; you have much to say about interesting subjects and I would like to soak up as much of it as possible. I am really going to enjoy this. :-)

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 7 years ago

      Many thanks, Daytripeer. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, I love the story about the Rosetta Stone, I remember seeing a TV programme about it and it made me laugh because champollion, after realising that he had cracked the code, ran across the road to tell everybody, and because he was so excited, he passed out clean on the floor and everybody thought he was dead!Low sugar level! he had forgotten to eat. Great hub, I went to see the Stone in London and thought it was amazing. I will bookmark this hub for future reference. I love history and am glad that I have found your hubs. cheers nell

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 7 years ago

      Hi Nell, thanks for coming by. It must've been a great moment for Champollion for him to forget to eat. lol. Anyway, I've also heard that some people pass out when they win millions in lottery. News don't confirm them, they're all hearsay. :D

      Gee, I hope I gave justice to history in my hubs. Hope you enjoy reading 'em.

    • katyzzz profile image

      katyzzz 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      WOW, how much we don't know, such dedication has led to so much knowledge, the Rosetta stone is fascinating, BeatsMe

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 7 years ago

      It is fascinating, Katyzzz. If this stone hadn't been discovered, much of ancient history will be a mystery. Hope you've enjoyed reading this. :)

    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 7 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

      What a fascinating read,thank you.

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 7 years ago

      Thanks for coming by, Marieryan. :)

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      I first learned about the Rosetta Stone in high school and was fascinated. I have since read a lot about ancient Egypt (Onot that I'm any sort of expert) and enjoyed reading about the archaeological discoveries there.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 6 years ago

      Hi Tony, hope you enjoyed reading this hub. Thanks for coming by. :)

    • profile image

      rima 6 years ago

      very factual report about the hierogliphics. I learned lots from it!

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 6 years ago

      Hi Rima, thanks. Hope you've also enjoyed reading this. :)

    • supercibor profile image

      Hector Herrera 6 years ago from Dominican Republic

      Very educational hub. Congratulations

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 6 years ago

      Hi Supercibor, thanks for reading and for your nice comment. :)

    • profile image

      cj 5 years ago

      Hieroglyph Alphabet

      cool

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 5 years ago

      :) :)

    • profile image

      thx 5 years ago

      you really helped with my school project it took forever to find a good site! :)

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 5 years ago

      Glad to be of help. :)

    • profile image

      megan 5 years ago

      it is cool

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 5 years ago

      :) :)

    • profile image

      Eddie 4 years ago

      BeatsMe,

      You said that the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone was largely the work of Thomas Young and Champollion. This is not entirely correct.

      The brunt translation of the Rosetta Stone and the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics rests squarely on Champollion's shoulders.

      While Thomas Young had initial substantive contribution to the translation that Champollion hadn't discovered yet. Champollion completed AND extended Young's work and established a system of decipherment and understanding that gave him supreme credit.

      Unfortunately, Champollion gave little credit to Young and egotistically suggested in print and word that his discovery was largely due to his own genius.

      Source: The Last Man Who Knew Everything by Andrew Robinson

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 4 years ago

      Hi Eddie, thank you so much for the share and for reading. Cheers.

    • profile image

      zain 4 years ago

      coiuld improve

    • BeatsMe profile image
      Author

      BeatsMe 4 years ago

      Thanks for your suggestion, Zain.

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