Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta stone is an ancient Egyptian stone that displays writings in multiple languages and scripts specifically Egyptian and Greek.

Found in the town of Rashid, the Rosetta stone was discovered by Frenchmen Pierre-Francois Bouchard in August 1799.

He surrendered the stone to Egypt in 1801 before it was subsequently transferred to in London, England.

At present, it is one of the most precious objects in the British Museum as it holds the answers to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs, which are a script composed of small images.

The Scripts

Prior to the discovery of the Rosetta stone, the knowledge to read Egyptian scripts was lost after Hieroglyphic writing died out in Egypt during the fourth century C.E.

The inscriptions in the Rosetta stone were created by the high priests of Memphis which epitomize the contributions of Ptolemy V Epiphanes during his reign as the Pharaoh of Egypt.

In addition, the scripts were reportedly written during the ninth year of his reign in honor of his acceptance of the throne.

Thomas Young

Thomas Young

English physicist Thomas Young played a huge part in deciphering the texts that were written in the Rosetta stone.

Young was the first to reveal that some of the scripts of the Rosetta stone displayed the texts of a royal name called Ptolemy.

The hieroglyphic scriptures on the stone were made up of six similar cartouches.

Jean-Francois Champollion

Jean-Francois Champollion

Consequently, French translator Jean-Francois Champollion pursued Young’s work wherein he published papers regarding the decipherment of the hieroglyphic writings from the Rosetta stone.

Champollion also found out that some of the writings in the Rosetta stone were not only syllabic and determinative but are also alphabetic.

Moreover, he added that the texts in the Rosetta stone were written in Greek and Egyptian languages.

Rosetta Stone Facts for Kids

  • While texts in the Rosetta stone are written in Greek and Egyptian languages
  • Historians also found out that Ancient Egyptians have three writing systems specifically the demotic, Greek, and hieroglyphics.
  • The importance of the Rosetta stone cannot be underestimated.
  • In the 19th-century scholars were able to use the stone in deciphering other Greek texts.
  • The Ptolemaic era was a Greek-speaking dynasty of Macedonian origin which controlled Ancient Egypt from the fourth to the first century B.C.E.
  • The back of the Rosetta stone is disordered after being hewn into shape while the front is unwrinkled and filled with inscriptions that are engraved into three distinctive scripts.
  • In Ancient Egypt, the hieroglyphic texts of the Rosetta stone are excellent for priestly decree while the demotic and Greek writing systems are suitable for daily purposes and administration.
  • The last sentence in the Greek section of the Rosetta stone said “Written in sacred and native and Greek characters”
  • The Rosetta stone was found by the soldiers of Napoleon Bonaparte who were digging the foundations of a fort located in the town of Rashid in the Nile Delta. The officer-in-charge of the recovery of the Rosetta stone was Bouchard.
  • Following Bonaparte’s defeat, the Rosetta stone became a property of the British Government under the agreement of the Treaty of Alexandria.

What did you learn?

When was the Rosetta stone made?
Archaeologists estimate that the Rosetta stone was created during 196 B.C.

Why is it called the Rosetta stone?
It is called the Rosetta stone after it was found in a small village in the Delta named Rashid or Rosetta.

How huge is the Rosetta stone?
It is an uneven shape stone of black granite that measures about 114 cm in length and 72 cm and width.

The top component of the stone was broken off an angle to harmonize with a series of pink granite whose crystalline structure sparkles a little in the light.

What is written in the Rosetta stone?
The scriptures in the Rosetta stone begin by classifying the deeds and accomplishment of kings and pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.

It also displayed details regarding tax reduction grants, peace restoration, and gift-giving in the different temples.