Hieroglyphs: breaking the code - Deepstash

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Hieroglyphs: breaking the code

  • 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 the rest of the inscription. Other words such as 'Greek', 'Egypt', and 'temple' could be identified. But the demotic text (a cursive form of hieroglyphs) was not an alphabet, nor completely unrelated to hieroglyphic.
  • In 1815, an English scientist and polymath, Thomas Young, traced how the pictographic hieroglyphs, showing people, animals, plants and other objects, had developed into their abstract, cursive equivalents in demotic. Young concluded that demotic consisted of a mixture between hieroglyphics and letters of the alphabet.

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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.

  • In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt. Military engineers discovered the Rosetta Stone in July 1799 while rebuilding an old fort in the Nile Delta.
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Ancient Egypt has exerted power of influence on the world of learning for over two millennia.

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