Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Page 32: Rediscovery in Earnest: Scholars and Scientists

Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832
is best known for his crucial decipherment
of the hieroglyphic script but he did also
travel to Egypt where he recorded many
ancient Egyptian temples.
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The next great advance, however, was the decipherment of the hieroglyphic script in 1822 - 1824 by Jearn-Francois Champollion (1790 - 1832) and others, which led to the first real translations of temple texts and inscriptions. The decipherment itself was based in part, of course, on the Rosetta Stone discovered in 1799, with its trilingual (hieroglyphicdemotic and Greek) decree of Ptolemy V dating to 169 BC, and also on an inscription on an obelisk of Ptolemy IX and his wife Cleopatra IV from Philae. These and other temple monuments supplied the scholars who worked on the long-locked language with the necessary clues for the decipherment of hieroglyphs.

Following this massive breakthrough a new age of Egyptological scholarship became possible. Scholars such as the English pioneer John Gardner Wilkinson (1797 - 1875) - whose works, including his Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians publisheeed in 1837, are still useful today - were able to begin to reconstruct ancient Egyptian civilization and to understand the significance of its treasures.

The Temple of Edfu by David Roberts, 1838. Roberts and other European artists stirred great interest in Egypt's past.
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