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Mysteries of Ancient Language: Egyptian Edition

Some of the boys in 2JT have been investigating ancient languages.  Today we had a really interesting discussion about the Rosetta Stone.  “What is that?” you might ask.  Well here’s what we found out after doing some research …

The Rosetta Stone has 3 languages carved into the stone. One of them is written in hieroglyphs, another one is ancient demotic (everyday) Egyptian, and the last one is ancient Greek. This provided the key that unlocked the secrets of the hieroglyphic text, as well as the unknown demotic language (since most scholars at the time could read ancient Greek.)

image credit: British Museum

image credit: British Museum

It was found in 1799, in Rosetta, Egypt (near Alexandria) by French soldiers, half buried in mud, when they were invading Egypt.  Jean Francois Champollion (from France) was the first one to crack the code.  He discovered that the pictures in the hieroglyphs represented sounds.  Before this, nobody knew how to speak or understand ancient Egyptian languages – the knowledge of how to read and write them was lost around 400 AD.  But now, for the first time since then, people could understand it, and translate all the other ancient Egyptian texts.  The text of the Rosetta Stone (once it was translated) was found to celebrate the one year anniversary of Ptolemy V becoming the King during the Ptolemaic Dynasty.

If you’re interested in finding out more information, click here to have a look at the British Museum website (the Rosetta Stone has been exhibited at the British Museum, in London, since 1802.)

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Filed under Enrichment, Grade 2, Really Good Questions

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