On this day in 1799, Napoleon’s army made an incredible find when invading the city of Rosetta in Egypt, roughly 35 miles north of Alexandria. An irregularly shaped black basalt slab was discovered which contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. At the time of the discovery, all ancient Egyptian writings were indecipherable as the language had been “dead” for nearly 2,000 years.
But the Greek passages were analyzed by several scholars and it was discovered in the Greek script that all three scripts were identical. And thus, the secrets of ancient Egyptian writings were unlocked, allowing the language and culture of ancient Egyptian history suddenly open for translation and historical discovery. What a find indeed!
The Rosetta Stone is now housed in the British Museum in London.
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