The Discovery of The Rosetta Stone
One of the most important by-products of the French invasion of Egypt was the knowledge gathered by the scientists and historians who journeyed along with the army. But, of all the discoveries made, the most important was the Rosetta Stone, the key that unlocked the ancient marvels of Egypt. Do any of you know what the Rosetta Stone is? The Rosetta stone is a very important artifact that was discovered during the French invasion of Egypt in the year 1799. You may ask why this is important. Well because of the Rosetta Stone, the historians and scientists now understand ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Previous to the discovery, Egyptian writing had been indecipherable. It was August 20th 1799 when the slab of dark stone was uncovered where the soldiers had knocked down a wall of Fort St. Julien. They sent it back to France to be studied. When the French surrendered Egypt to Britain in 1801, the conquerors also decided that the stone be surrendered, also. It was taken the British Museum. It wasn’t until more than 20 years later did someone start to decipher the writing. A British Scientist, Thomas Young and a French scholar Jean Champollion both contributed to the translation we have today. Then, it took another 20 years to interpret the whole slab. The text on the stone is a decree from Ptolemy V, describing the repeal of various taxes and instructions to raise the statues in temples. The Rosetta Stone is 45 inches high at its highest point, 28.5 inches wide and 11 inches thick. It weighs nearly 2,000 pounds and is currently described as a ganodiorite of a dark grey-pinkish color. Despite vigorous campaigns to return the Rosetta Stone to Egypt, it remains in the British Museum, as it has almost continuously since 1802. So thanks to Napoleon, and the scientists and historians that traveled with him to war, along with the translators of the stone, we now know much more about the ancient Egyptians, and their peculiar style...
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