Deciphering the Stone, Deciphering Egypt

Added on Mar 12, 2018

With its deep-rooted history, unmatchable civilization and everlasting monuments, Egypt has always attracted the attention and admiration of Egyptologists as well as fans from all corners of the globe. This has developed into what came to be known as Egyptomania.
On 19 July, 1799, and during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovered a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria.
Rosetta, whose name means “Rose of the Nile” became the center of attention of the world afterwards.
The found stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. The ancient Greek on the Rosetta Stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed by priests honoring the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, in the second century B.C. More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly 2,000 years.
Thomas Young, an English physicist, was the first to show that some of the hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone wrote the sounds of a royal name, that of Ptolemy. The French scholar Jean-François Champollion then realized that hieroglyphs recorded the sound of the Egyptian language and laid the foundations of our knowledge of ancient Egyptian language and culture.
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.
The Rosetta Stone has been exhibited in the British Museum since 1802, with only one break. Towards the end of the First World War, in 1917, when the Museum was concerned about heavy bombing in London, they moved it to safety along with other, portable, 'important' objects. The Rosetta Stone spent the next two years in a station on the Postal Tube Railway 50 feet below the ground at Holborn.
Lying 65 km east of Alexandria, Rashid dates back to the early dynastic era, where Menes marched from Upper Egypt to capture the town within his drive to unite both parts of the country and the town was then named " Khito.” In the Ptolemaic era, the town was renamed " Poulbotine" after the Poulbotinium Temple, dedicated to honor Queen Cleopatra. In the Coptic age, the town was known as Rashit, later converted to Rashid.
With its strategic location between the Mediterranean and the western arm of the Nile, Rashid had been an extremely important military site since early times. The town was witness to many important events in ancient as well as modern times. It is typically a tranquil and highly green town with vast gardens, orchards and date-palm plantations, in addition to a multitude of beautiful Mameluke and Ottoman houses, inns and mosques adorned with exquisite decorative inscriptions and woodworks.