Thursday, October 12, 2006

inner dork: The Rosetta Stone

Did you know....

The Rosetta Stone provided the link between ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Greek writing. The basalt stone, measuring 3 3/4 feet high and 2 1/2 feet wide, dates from 196 B.C. It was discovered in 1799, and it took three scholars working successively for more than thirty years to determine the basic principles of hieroglyphic writing. The Rosetta Stone wasn't intended to be a translation tool; it was a decree honoring Ptolemy V Epiphanes, written in three types of script. At the top of the stone the decree is written in hieroglyphics. In the center of the stone the decree is repeated in a script of spoken Egyptian, and at the bottom it is repeated again in Greek. Because the Rosetta Stone is nearly intact, scholars of written Greek were able to translate the Greek portion, and based on the translation, to decipher the hieroglphics. One especially exciting aspect of the endeavor was the discovery that hieroglyphics were largely alphabetic, not just pictorial. They actually spelled words, and didn't merely represent ideas through pictures, as had previously been thought.


puerileuwaite said...

Everytime I hear mention of the Rosetta Stone, I can't help but think of "Sister Rosetta Stone" from Cheech and Chong's "Sister Mary Elephant".


It would've been SO cool if the decifered message read: Be sure to drink your ovaltine.

Party Girl said...

...complete with a box marked, "Fra-gil-ee"