Rosetta Stone: A Boxego Moment in History - 15th July 1799

Jul 15, 2016

A Boxego Timeline journal entry...

François Bouchard, a captain in Napoleon's army discovered the Rosetta Stone in 1799 while digging the foundations of an addition to a fort near the town of el-Rashid (Rosetta). On Napoleon's defeat, the stone became the property of the British under the terms of the Treaty of Alexandria (1801) along with other antiquities that the French had found.

 It has been exhibited in the British Museum since 1802, (It was moved out of the museum once towards the end of the First World War, in 1917. The Museum was concerned about heavy bombing in London and so they moved it to a station on the Postal Tube Railway 50 feet below the ground at Holborn.)

A valuable key to the decipherment of hieroglyphs, the inscription on the Rosetta Stone is a decree passed by a council of priests in the year 196BC.

The decree is inscribed on the stone three times, in hieroglyphic (suitable for a priestly decree), demotic (the native script used for daily purposes), and Greek (the language of the administration). The importance of this to Egyptology is immense.


Soon after the end of the fourth 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 nineteenth century, some 1400 years later, scholars were able to use the Greek inscription on the Rosetta Stone as the key to decipher them.


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Category: History