The Rosetta Stone and Hieroglyphics

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The Rosetta Stone and Hieroglyphics
In July of 1799 Napoleon's army was making fortification in northern Egypt
after conquering the country. One of the French soldiers who was digging in
the area near Rosetta hit upon a small black rock. The rock had carvings in
three different styles of writing. After studying the stone, scholars
realized that two of the styles of writing on the stone were ancient
Egyptian. Both of the styles were so ancient that no one had been able to
translate them. The third style was Greek. The Greek was easy to translate.
When the scholars realized that the message was probably the same one
written in three different ways, the ability to read Greek helped scholars
understand many things about hieroglyphs.
Hieroglyphics was a form of picture writing with about 700 signs. In 1824
Jean Francois Champollion worked out how they should be read. Instead of
letters the writing used signs. They were written in lines straight across or
up and down without spaces or punctuation marks. Many hieroglyphs were a
kind of picture of what they represented. For example a bird was
represented with a picture of a bird, or a picture of a foot might have stood
for the word walking. Later the pictures stood for sounds instead of whole
words. After this Egyptians could spell out words like we do today. The
Rosetta Stone can now be seen in the British Museum in London.
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