The Rosetta Stone (EA 24)
Date: Ptolemaic Periods -196 BC
One of the British Museum's most famous objects, this slab of granite was the
key to the decipherment of hieroglyphs. Discovered in 1799 by Napoleon's
troops, the stone is inscribed with the same text in three different kinds of
script; hieroglyphs at the top, demotic (a later form of Egyptian writing) in the
centre and ancient Greek at the bottom. Since Greek was understood scholars
were able to use this language to help decipher the hieroglyphs. Thomas Young
was the first person to show that some of the hieroglyphs on the Rosetta
Stone wrote the sounds of the royal name Ptolemy, while the Frenchman Jean-
Francois Champollion finally deciphered all the hieroglyphs in 1822.
Draw the outline of the Rosetta Stone, show the position of the three
different types of writing.
Hieroglyphs were written on a wide range of materials. How many
different materials are there in Room 4 ?
As you go through the other galleries, tick the materials on which you
“ stone “ papyrus
“ pottery “ plaster
“ wood “ metal
“ cloth “ clay
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