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The Story Behind RS

The Story Behind "Rosetta Stone"

Historical overview of the Rosetta Stone

By RS' Team

   The Rosetta Stone is one of the most important objects in the British Museum as it holds the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs—a script made up of small pictures that was used originally in ancient Egypt for religious texts. Hieroglyphic writing died out in Egypt in the fourth century C.E.. Over time the knowledge of how to read hieroglyphs was lost, until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 and its subsequent decipherment.

   The Rosetta Stone is one of the most important objects in the British Museum as it holds the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs—a script made up of small pictures that was used originally in ancient Egypt for religious texts. Hieroglyphic writing died out in Egypt in the fourth century C.E.. Over time the knowledge of how to read hieroglyphs was lost, until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 and its subsequent decipherment.

   The decree on the stone is written in three ways: in hieroglyphics, which was used mainly by priests; in ancient Egyptian demotic, used for everyday purposes; and in ancient Greek. The use of hieroglyphics died out after the 4th century and the writing system became an enigma to scholars.

   Young surmised that the cartouches—hieroglyphs enclosed in ovals—contained the phonetic spellings of royal names, including Ptolemy, who was referenced in the Greek inscription.

  Ultimately, it was French linguist Jean-Francois Champollion who deciphered the Rosetta Stone and cracked the hieroglyphic code. Between 1822 and 1824, Champollion showed that hieroglyphics were a combination of phonetic and ideographic signs rather than just symbolic picture writing that didn’t also represent sounds of language, as earlier scholars had suspected. For his discoveries, Champollion is heralded as the founding father of Egyptology.

  While the French soldiers couldn’t have known it at the time, the “Rosetta Stone” they pulled from the rubble would trigger one of history’s great intellectual odysseys. The meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics had been lost since the dying days of the Roman Empire, but with its triple inscription, the stone offered scholars a chance to decipher the ancient symbols once and for all—making the find the key to this remarkable period in history. Yet it would take decades, and the work of two brilliant scholars, to unlock the stone’s secrets.

  When linguists tried to tackle the portions written in hieroglyphics, most were left scratching their heads.

“Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos .Aenean non turpis vitae ligula tristique sagitt isras varius erat pulvinar eros pretium”

  According to author Andrew Robinson’s book Cracking the Egyptian Code, Young proved that demotic script derived from hieroglyphics and contained individual phonetic letters as well as ideographic symbols. Demotic “was neither a purely conceptual or symbolic script, nor an alphabet, but a mixture of the two,” Robinson wrote. Crucially, however, Young did not apply these same revelations to hieroglyphics. Like most scholars at the time, he subscribed to the belief that hieroglyphics were almost entirely symbolic,

  He then applied the signs to the names in the cartouches found on the Rosetta Stone and elsewhere, using the discoveries from each new translation to fill in the gaps on the others. He made a discovery that had eluded all previous scholars: Rather than being a purely symbolic script, hieroglyphics included both conceptual symbols and phonetic signs.

  The importance of this to Egyptology is immense. When it was discovered, nobody knew how to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Because the inscriptions say the same thing in three different scripts, and scholars could still read Ancient Greek, the Rosetta Stone became a valuable key to deciphering the hieroglyphs.

  Soon after the end of the 4th century AD, when hieroglyphs had gone out of use, the knowledge of how to read and write them disappeared. In the early years of the 19th century, scholars were able to use the Greek inscription on this stone as the key to decipher them. Thomas Young (1773–1829), an English physicist, was the first to show that some of the hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone wrote the sounds of a royal name, that of Ptolemy.

  The Rosetta Stone let scholars compare hieroglyphics to known languages; it helped them decode a lost language. For more than 200 years, the original stone has been housed in London’s British Museum, where it receives millions of visitors annually. As the artifact responsible for rescuing ancient Egypt from the mists of time, the 2,200-year-old slab is often listed among history’s most important archaeological discoveries—the key that unlocked the secrets of a civilization.

About RS

  Rosetta Stone is an authorized Translation and Localization services provider in all languages, established on 2018 based on Bani-Suef, Egypt.

  Besides our main services in the Translation and localization industry, we provide you with voiceover, content writing and creation, and programming services as well.

  Searching for a professional translation company to provide you accurate document translations and localization services? Ask the help of Rosetta Stone with its competitive rates, fast turn-around times, superb quality and a complete portfolio of professional translation services.

Mission
  To provide you with a superior translation and localization experience through unparalleled customer service, the latest translation technology, and highly qualified professional linguists and writers.