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Rosetta Stone - Essay Example

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The Rosetta Stone contains a priestly decree in honour of Ptolemy V which was set up in a major temple. (Wilson, 2004, p. 31) It is said that European archaeology in Egypt began during the French expedition when French soldiers accidentally discovered the Rosetta Stone, however the greatest contribution to the stone was made by Jean-Francis Champollion who after twenty-three years of struggle and work out on studying hieroglyphs was able to uncover the secrets behind 'Rosetta stone' in 1822. Champollion was the one who is held responsible for opening the doors to modern Egyptology.
According to Reid (2002) "The French expedition is solely responsible for finding Rosetta Stone as without their expedition there would have been no description of ancient Egypt. It is the stone who brought before us the decipherment of hieroglyphics, otherwise it would have been delayed and, until the decipherment, most pharaoh history would have remained missing. Therefore, the onus is on the stone who revealed modern Egypt and Egyptology". (Reid, 2002, p. 14)
The French soldiers after discovering the Rosetta Stone while digging fortifications, left Egypt on the threshold of Anglo-French geopolitical rivalry. This situation fatally weakened the Mamluks (slave soldiers), thereby paving the way for Muhammad Ali. In this context the stone was responsible for a major change occurrence economically, politically and culturally through Muhammad Ali's reign.
In archaeology, the French expedition and Muhammad Ali's reign ushered in a new era where the emphasis was given to decipher 'Rosetta Stone'. However the stone paved the way to the decipherment of hieroglyphics and the birth of modern Egyptology, and the Description advanced the documentation of pharaoh art, architecture, and topography. (Reid, 2002, p. 32)
Most notably, the 1799 discovery of the Rosetta Stone, a trebly-inscribed stone fragment unearthed by his army during Napoleon's Egyptian campaigns, presented the general as the heroic person likely to unlock the mysteries of ancient Egypt by translating hieroglyphs.

Linguistic Significance:
Rosetta stone is actually the surviving fragment of granite is inscribed with the decree to guarantee lands and endowments to the temples of Egypt. What is carved on the stone is called the Ptolemaic decrees, written in praise of the then pharaoh. The written text on the Rosetta Stone revealed that the same text on the stone is written in three different languages: Greek (for the ruling administration of the day), Egyptian hieroglyphs (for the gods), and Egyptian Demotic (for a common man). The range of languages reflects the strata of Egyptian society at this time and the lines of communication.

Even though the Rosetta Stone was handed over to the British as part of the spoils of the Napoleonic War, the texts had by then been copied and were later sent all over the world. The process of decipherment required several stages as each of the principles behind the script was discovered. With hindsight, it seems as if it were a step-by-step progression, but in fact often one person would have a good idea, but would continue to use other incorrect assumptions at the same time. So, the final triumph came from deciding which of the many permutations ...Show more

Summary

In 1799, a stone was discovered by the French and since its discovery was made at a small town on the Mediterranean Coast in Egypt, it was named as 'Rosetta stone' after the name of the town 'Rosetta'. The stone was discovered by Napoleon soldiers and was a part of the temple Stela, on the stone was carved three language scripts, Egyptian, hieroglyphic and demotic…
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