How we deciphered Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs - Deepstash

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How we deciphered Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs

sciencefocus.com

Ancient Egypt and hieroglyphs

Ancient Egypt has exerted power of influence on the world of learning for over two millennia.

The Greek historian Herodotus identified the pyramids at Giza as places of royal burial, but his works did not help 19th Century scholars in understanding ancient Egyptian writing. Greek and R...

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  • Ancient Egypt was conquered, first by Persians, then by Macedonian Greeks under Alexander the Great in 332BC.
  • The Ptolematic dynasty, named after Alexander's general, Ptolemy I, ruled Egypt for three centuries. It ended with the death of Cleopatra VII and the Roman occupation ...

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Greek and Roman authors thought that hieroglyphs were symbols of ancient Egyptian wisdom. They dismissed any phonetic component in the hieroglyphs.

This misguided view of hieroglyphs as 'picture writing' obscured any attempt at deciphering it. Near the 18th Cen...

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The turning point in understanding hieroglyphs

  • In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt. Military engineers discovered the Rosetta Stone in July 1799 while rebuilding an old fort in the Nile Delta.
  • It was clear that the bottom inscription on the Rosetta Stone was written in the Greek alphabet and the top part in Egyptian hiero...

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  • In 1802, a French and a Swedish scholar used similar techniques to unravel the text. They searched for the name Ptolemy, by isolating repeated groups of symbols in about the same position as the Greek inscription.
  • They drew up a tentative alphabet and applied it to...

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In 1822, Jean-François Champollion found an essential clue from the newly discovered cartouche (oval rings enclosing certain groups of hieroglyphs, generally names and titles) containing the name of Cleopatra. The alphabet was now mostly correct and allowed him to translate the n...

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