Ancient Egyptian civilization has always fascinated the world with its awe-inspiring monuments decorated with lavish paintings and hieroglyphic texts that have long captured the interest and attention of admirers, scholars, scientists and historians who in the past tried to decode their symbols but without success.
The discovery of the Rosetta stone in 1799 contributed to deciphering the ancient Egyptian language, understanding ancient Egyptian literature and civilization, and establishing Egyptology. It was made of irregularly shaped granodiorite. The Rosetta stone was the key to the puzzle of the hieroglyphic language and despite the obstacles faced by would-be decipherers, a host of scholars rushed to try their luck at cracking the Rosetta stone’s code. Two emerged as clear frontrunners: the French philologist Champollion, who ultimately proved successful, and the English physician and physicist Thomas Young, who’d made major contributions to scientists’ for the understanding of the hieroglyphs. With the mysteries of the Egyptian script unlocked by Champollion and his successors, scholars were able to confirm the Rosetta stone represented three translations of a single text.
Champollion was able to decipher his symbols because he knew the Coptic language at an early age, so he matched it with the Greek language found on the stone, then he distinguished the names of the Ptolemaic rulers written in the Egyptian colloquial language.
Champollion was not the first to achieve such success, however, according to scholar Okasha Al-Dali of University College London’s Institute of Archaeology. He revealed in 2004 through an analysis of manuscripts that Arab scholars had correctly interpreted many hieroglyphic symbols in the 9th century, almost 1,000 years before Champollion.