C L Stone Biography & Facts
The Rosetta Stone is a stele composed of granodiorite inscribed with three versions of a decree issued in Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty on behalf of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes. The top and middle texts are in Ancient Egyptian using hieroglyphic and Demotic scripts respectively, while the bottom is in Ancient Greek. The decree has only minor differences between the three versions, making the Rosetta Stone key to deciphering the Egyptian scripts.
The stone was carved during the Hellenistic period and is believed to have originally been displayed within a temple, possibly at Sais. It was probably moved in late antiquity or during the Mamluk period, and was eventually used as building material in the construction of Fort Julien near the town of Rashid (Rosetta) in the Nile Delta. It was found there in July 1799 by French officer Pierre-François Bouchard during the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt. It was the first Ancient Egyptian bilingual text recovered in modern times, and it aroused widespread public interest with its potential to decipher this previously untranslated hieroglyphic script. Lithographic copies and plaster casts soon began circulating among European museums and scholars. When the British defeated the French they took the stone to London under the Capitulation of Alexandria in 1801. Since 1802, it has been on public display at the British Museum almost continuously and is its most visited object.
Study of the decree was already underway when the first complete translation of the Greek text was published in 1803. Jean-François Champollion announced the transliteration of the Egyptian scripts in Paris in 1822; it took longer still before scholars were able to read Ancient Egyptian inscriptions and literature confidently. Major advances in the decoding were recognition that the stone offered three versions of the same text (1799); that the Demotic text used phonetic characters to spell foreign names (1802); that the hieroglyphic text did so as well, and had pervasive similarities to the Demotic (1814); and that phonetic characters were also used to spell native Egyptian words (1822–1824).
Three other fragmentary copies of the same decree were discovered later, and several similar Egyptian bilingual or trilingual inscriptions are now known, including three slightly earlier Ptolemaic decrees: the Decree of Alexandria in 243 BC, the Decree of Canopus in 238 BC, and the Memphis decree of Ptolemy IV, c. 218 BC. The Rosetta Stone is no longer unique, but it was the essential key to the modern understanding of ancient Egyptian literature and civilisation. The term 'Rosetta Stone' is now used to refer to the essential clue to a new field of knowledge.
The Rosetta Stone is listed as "a stone of black granodiorite, bearing three inscriptions ... found at Rosetta" in a contemporary catalogue of the artefacts discovered by the French expedition and surrendered to British troops in 1801. At some period after its arrival in London, the inscriptions were coloured in white chalk to make them more legible, and the remaining surface was covered with a layer of carnauba wax designed to protect it from visitors' fingers. This gave a dark colour to the stone that led to its mistaken identification as black basalt. These additions were removed when the stone was cleaned in 1999, revealing the original dark grey tint of the rock, the sparkle of its crystalline structure, and a pink vein running across the top left corner. Comparisons with the Klemm collection of Egyptian rock samples showed a close resemblance to rock from a small granodiorite quarry at Gebel Tingar on the west bank of the Nile, west of Elephantine in the region of Aswan; the pink vein is typical of granodiorite from this region.The Rosetta Stone is 1,123 millimetres (3 ft 8 in) high at its highest point, 757 mm (2 ft 5.8 in) wide, and 284 mm (11 in) thick. It weighs approximately 760 kilograms (1,680 lb). It bears three inscriptions: the top register in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the second in the Egyptian Demotic script, and the third in Ancient Greek. The front surface is polished and the inscriptions lightly incised on it; the sides of the stone are smoothed, but the back is only roughly worked, presumably because it would have not been visible when the stele was erected.
The Rosetta Stone is a fragment of a larger stele. No additional fragments were found in later searches of the Rosetta site. Owing to its damaged state, none of the three texts is complete. The top register, composed of Egyptian hieroglyphs, suffered the most damage. Only the last 14 lines of the hieroglyphic text can be seen; all of them are broken on the right side, and 12 of them on the left. Below it, the middle register of demotic text has survived best; it has 32 lines, of which the first 14 are slightly damaged on the right side. The bottom register of Greek text contains 54 lines, of which the first 27 survive in full; the rest are increasingly fragmentary due to a diagonal break at the bottom right of the stone.
Memphis decree and its context
The stele was erected after the coronation of King Ptolemy V and was inscribed with a decree that established the divine cult of the new ruler. The decree was issued by a congress of priests who gathered at Memphis. The date is given as "4 Xandikos" in the Macedonian calendar and "18 Mekhir" in the Egyptian calendar, which corresponds to 27 March 196 BC. The year is stated as the ninth year of Ptolemy V's reign (equated with 197/196 BC), which is confirmed by naming four priests who officiated in that year: Aetos son of Aetos was priest of the divine cults of Alexander the Great and the five Ptolemies down to Ptolemy V himself; the other three priests named in turn in the inscription are those who led the worship of Berenice Euergetis (wife of Ptolemy III), Arsinoe Philadelphos (wife and sister of Ptolemy II), and Arsinoe Philopator, mother of Ptolemy V. However, a second date is also given in the Greek and hieroglyphic texts, corresponding to 27 November 197 BC, the official anniversary of Ptolemy's coronation. The demotic text conflicts with this, listing consecutive days in March for the decree and the anniversary. It is uncertain why this discrepancy exists, but it is clear that the decree was issued in 196 BC and that it was designed to re-establish the rule of the Ptolemaic kings over Egypt.The decree was issued during a turbulent period in Egyptian history. Ptolemy V Epiphanes, the son of Ptolemy IV Philopator and his wife and sister Arsinoe, reigned from 204 to 181 BC. He had become ruler at the age of five after the sudden death of both of his parents, who were murdered in a conspiracy that involved Ptolemy IV's mistress Agathoclea, according to contemporary sources. The conspirators effectively ruled Egypt as Ptolemy V's guardians until a revolt broke out two years later under general Tlepolemus, when Aga.... Discover the C L Stone popular books. Find the top 100 most popular C L Stone books.