The last well-known hieroglyphic engraving from ancient Egyptian time in the temple of Philae in southern Egypt. It to be written roughly 1600 year ago. Shortly after, this created language was shed to history forever and only lived on as the spoken language Coptic. So how did we control to decode the mysterious engravings hundreds and hundreds of years after the critical of the ancient Egyptians died.

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The Rosetta Stone

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The prize lay within a slab of black granite. In 1799 in the Nile Delta, in a town referred to as Rosetta, one of Napolean’s soldiers discovered a special rock as lock demolished one old wall surface to expand their fort. Later on named the Rosetta Stone, the artefact they discovered had three different languages engraved on the side; hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek. Scholars were unable to recognize the an initial two languages, yet they could read Greek writing. They discovered the creating was around king Ptolemy V, who once ruled Egypt in 196 BC, and realised the the three languages must tell the exact same story. This significant the moment It became a very little ‘dictionary’ to the researcher attempting to recognize hieroglyphics, and also though this was an important progress, there to be many daunting years ahead prior to anyone truly taken hieroglyphs.


Cartouche that Sekhemre-Heruhirmaat Intef or Intef VIII. 17th Dynasty. The Petrie Museum that Egyptian Archaeology, London.


Thomas Young 

A young English polymath to be enthralled through the Rosetta stone and do a breakthrough after ~ focussing ~ above a collection of circled hieroglyphs called a cartouche. He believed that due to the fact that these sets to be made come stand the end so lot that they need to be significant, perhaps the surname of the Pharaoh Ptolemy which the knew was stated in the Greek translation. Young was able to decode the phonetics of the equivalent hieroglyphs because a pharoahs name would be express very comparable regardless of which language you were speaking. He spent time matching the letter of ‘Ptolemy’ permitting for the very first correct understanding and also verbalisation the hieroglyphs in practically a millennium and a half. But research went again the frequently held id that hieroglyphs to be ‘picture writing’ and not a phonetic language that can be spoken, and also rather just symbols for items and people. Though he was really onto something, Young lost interest in his work, perhaps with reluctance to difficulty this widely embraced view. He explained his findings as foreign names gift spelt out as there would have actually been no symbol for them, however it wasn’t long before this concept was challenged and proved wrong.


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Hieroglyphs in Memphis v a statue the Ramses II in the background.

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Jean-François Champollion

Champollion picked up where Young left off and also promised he would be the one to crack the old code after see a collection of Egyptian antiquities in 1801 when he was just ten year old. In 1822 he received some cartouches the contained classic Egyptian names but found they to be still spelt the end which directly disapproved the theory that spelling was just for international names. He offered Young’s technique on a few more cartouches, and eventually uncovered himself focussed top top one cartouche that consisted of just four hieroglyphs. That didn’t recognize the an initial two symbols but it had already been created that the two repeated at the finish must be ‘s-s’. Champollion had actually learnt to be fluent in Coptic as a teenager, and would compose his journal in the archaic language, however had never thought the Coptic could be the language that the old hieroglyphs. He taken into consideration the an initial hieroglyph, and also assuming the sound to be the of the Coptic word for sun, ‘ra’. This would certainly make the cracked password ‘ra-?-s-s’, and only one pharaonic name fit this – Rameses. And with that, Champollion had actually cracked hieroglyphs and also solved the centuries-old mystery. Egyptian hieroglyphs to be the officially writing mechanism used in ancient Egypt to create the Coptic language, and Champollion had actually opened the doors to knowledge these ancient communities and also culture.

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