I'm the Rosetta Stone and I'm going to share with you some interesting facts about myself. I'm older than 2,000 years old so I've lived some pretty interesting adventures ;)
- I am the key to one of the most vibrant mysteries in the history of written language. ??
- I was created in 179 BCE (Before Common Era, which is the same as saying BC, Before Christ) in a temple in the port city of the Nile Delta, Rosetta.
- At first, I stated a royal decrees stating the legitimacy of the king Ptolemy V, who assumed the throne when he was barely 5 years old, after the tragic murder of his parents.
- The three languages in which my facade is carved in are: hieroglyphic, which was the sacred form of script; Egyptian demotic, which was the common tongue; and Greek, which at that time was the official language of the Macedonian-ruled Egypt.
- During the 4th century, the decipherment of hieroglyphics had been forgotten because the Roman Empire had declared it a pagan form of script.
- Many foreigners passed my way, but it wasn’t until the Napoleonic wars that, during the invasion, a French engineer called Pierre-Françoise Bouchard saw me laying on the ground.
- Noticing that I carried one of the most powerful tools in humanity (if not the most powerful of all), written language, they took me to Napoleon himself.
- But then came the English and they defeated Napoleon’s troops. They claimed ownership of important findings that the French had discovered, and one of the most valuable and mysterious was obviously me.
- I was taken to the world’s first public national museum: the British Museum, which opened in 1757. At first people could actually touch me! But, as many other long-standing objects around the world, I was to be taken the special care I deserve. So they eventually covered me with a protective glass.
- Now, the message I bear was a true conundrum that took more than two decades to be discovered, mainly because hieroglyphics were completely misunderstood.
- The major breakthrough came when it was discovered that the symbol of a sun referred to the word “ra” which was placed at the beginning of the sun god “Ramses”. This was the key to understanding the fact that the essence of hieroglyphics isn’t based on symbolic writing, but rather in phonetics. Mind-blowing!
- A complete translation of the texts was finally produced in 1822 by the French historian Jean-François Champollion.
- From then on scholars, historians and archaeologists were able to translate millions of carvings, scripts, inscriptions in walls and papyrus.
- The enigmatic Egyptian culture was henceforth unraveled in so many thanks to...well, me!
- A vast amount of information had been written by the Egyptians, such as mythology, educational and social systems, burial customs, astronomy and many more. Language gave meaning to so many unsolved and uncomprehended mysteries surrounding a breathtakingly interesting culture.
- The word ‘Hieroglyph’ is the result of a mix between two Greek words: ‘hieros’ which means holy, and ‘glyphe’ which means writing; there are over 700 hieroglyphic symbols in the ancient Egyptian alphabet; and there are no punctuation signs nor spaces between words.
- I used to be quite big, my travels have worn me out, and to this day my I’m 1.14m long and 72cm wide. However, the knowledge I’ve procured to the world has no measure!