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Word Count: 455
Right from the beginning the deciphering of the mysterious Egyptian writing fascinated everybody In 1799 a certain Captain Bouchard of the French Army was supervising work on the fortifications of Fort St Julian situated a little more than four kilometers outside the town of Rosetta when hi workmen discovered a stone which was destined to achieve great fame in archaeological history It was in fact the Rosetta Stone which led to the deciphering of the hieroglyphs As a result of the fortunes of war this precious stone fell into the hands of the British who gave it a place of honor in the British Museum On one face of the stone a tablet of extremely hard black basalt there is a long trilingual inscription the three texts begin written one above other The first of the inscriptions 14 lines long is written in hieroglyphs The second 32 lines long is written in demotic from the Greek word demos meaning people which refers to a type of script used by ordinary people The third inscription 54 lines long is in Greek and hence was comprehensible This latter text translated without difficulty proved to be a priestly decree in honor of Ptolemy Epiphanes which finishes with a formal instruction that this decree engraved on a tablet of hard stone in three scripts hieroglyphic demotic and Greek shall be engraved in each of the great temples of Egypt The honor of deciphering the hieroglyphs fell to two scholars the Englishman Thomas Young and the Frenchman Francois Champollion who started work on it almost the same time and who were to see their efforts crowned by success What Young achieved by instinct Champollion achieved by scientific method and with such success that by his death in 1832 he could leave behind him a grammar and a very substantial dictionary of ancient Egyptian But what did this writing that the Greeks called hieroglyphic from hiero glyphica that is sacred
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