why was finding the rosetta stone so important to scholars

The past week our class focused on the topic of the Great Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings, and Egypt in general. While in class the discussion centered around explorers, the pyramids, and the systematic robbing of Egyptian artifacts something piqued my curiosity. Albeit somewhat briefly, the Rosetta Stone was mentioned. The Rosetta Stone itself was a stele inscribed with a decree by King Ptolemy V, on it were the sane decree but written in three different scripts; Ancient Greek, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, and demotic script. PThis ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic stele has been so important to Egyptology and plays such a predominant role in learning about the ancient Egyptians. Rosetta Stone has even become a name for an essential clue in a field of knowledge. If it were not for the Rosetta Stone archaeologists would not be able to translate Egyptian hieroglyphics. Through the work of many linguists and archaeologists the Rosetta Stone became a tool to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, making scholars and archaeologists able to translate an innumerable amount of cravings, scripts, and wall inscriptions. Information could be gathered from hieroglyphics that could date back thousands of years. PFor example, ancient Egyptian literature such as papyrus scrolls from the Middle Egyptian era, and hieroglyphs on the walls of Theban temples. PEgyptians wrote about burial customs, history, Egyptian mythology, and so much more all across their temples, in scripted on many walls. This gave Egyptologists an insight into the beliefs and minds of ancient Egyptians (or at least the upper, educated class). Such beliefs as the intricate Egyptian mythological system of many gods and goddesses. In addition,Pthrough the translation Egyptologists discovered cartouches and the names of the pharaohs, giving them the names of the buried pharaohs in the pyramids.


Locking the code to the Egyptian hieroglyphics also showed archaeologists that Egyptians had an extensive knowledge of astronomy, some scholars even argue that the pyramids have connections with astronomy. While that may be debatable, the impressive knowledge of ancient Egyptian architects is not. These architects designed and built massive structures. Even the sides of some pyramids have slopes with a small margin of error. Their lives and techniques written and stored in the burial places near their pharaohs. There is plethora of knowledge about ancient Egypt that without the Rosetta Stone would be a mystery. The Rosetta stone has been essential to the modern knowledge of ancient Egyptian literature and civilization.
The Rosetta Stone, a 1700-pound piece of rock (called a stele) discovered in the sands of Egypt, was the key to modern understanding of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Stone, discovered in 1799 by a soldier in the French army headed by Napoleon Bonaparte, contains essentially the same text in three different languages: Ancient Greek, Demotic, and hieroglyphs. A full translation of the Greek versions was completed in 1803, but it was 20 years before linguists worked out the details of the hieroglyphs. Bonaparte became leader of the French army and people in the late 18th Century. Because of the French Revolution and other European governments' opposition to it, France was at war with most of the other European powers for two decades. Because Bonaparte was the central figure in this series of conflicts, they are often called the Napoleonic Wars. The French presence in Egypt intensified as the 18th Century was ending. French troops claimed ownership of large parts of Egypt.


While building forts in the area, French troops found the Stone, near the Nile-delta town of Rashid, also called Rosetta. The Stone, 45 inches high, 28. 5 inches wide, and 11 inches thick, was one of many artifacts unearthed by French forces. In 1801, British troops defeated the French forces in Egypt. Part of the settlement after this battle was that Britain gained control of the Stone and of other artifacts. Beginning the following year, the British Museum had the Rosetta Stone on display. But at that time, neither the British nor the French really knew what they had found. The use and understanding of hieroglyphs had gone out of fashion in the early centuries A. D. A few Arab historians made an attempt in the 9th and 10th Centuries but without success. A few more European historians tried again in the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries, still without success. The discovery of the Rosetta Stone renewed an interest in understanding hieroglyphs, and historians and linguists tried again. Scholars still understood Ancient Greek but struggled initially with the administrative technicalities of the language on the Stone. A British translation of the Ancient Greek text was available in early 1802. The following year, French linguists, working on a copy of the text made after the initial discovery, produced a copy in both French and Latin. Meanwhile, a French linguist had recognized some of the letters on the other non-hieroglyph set of writing as belonging to what came to be called Demotic script. Characters written in this script had been found in Egypt and were similar to the Coptic language, which had begun in the area in more recent times. A French scholar, Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy, reported identifying in the Demotic script the names of five people, including Alexander the Great and Ptolemy.


Silvestre de Sacy did not work on the translation further except to remark to one of his colleagues that names in hieroglyphs might be written phonestically. This supposition was based on work done by previous French scholars. A British researcher took the French suggestion to heart and succeeded in identifying several similarities between the Ancient Greek text and the Demotic script. Until that time, researchers in all countries had believed that the texts were independent of one another. Another French scholar was the one who ultimately cracked the code. Jean-Francois Champollion had, in 1814, identified the phonetic characters spelling the name of Cleopatra in two inscriptions on a famous obelisk. One inscription was Greek, and the other was in hieroglyphs. Champollion turned his attention to the Rosetta Stone and eventually found similarities for the pharaonic names Ramses and Thutmose. In 1822, he announced a full translation of the hieroglyphs. The Frenchman eventually contstructed a hieroglyphic dictionary and a grammar of Ancient Egyptian writings. Many historians now think that the Rosetta Stone text was written in three languages so that most Egyptians could understand it. Ancient Greek was the language of the pharaohs at the time the Stone was carved, 196 B. C. Demotic was the common script of Egypt at the time. And, of course, hieroglyphs were the language of the priests. The text itself is a list of all the things the current pharaoh, Ptolemy V, had done so far in his reign. The Rosetta Stone is part of a larger stele that fragmented in the centuries it was buried. Thanks to the efforts of Champollion and other scholars, everyone can now understand ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

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