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Wonderful ThingsA History of Egyptology: 1: From Antiquity to 1881$
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Jason Thompson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9789774165993

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774165993.001.0001

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The Decipherment of the Hieroglyphs

The Decipherment of the Hieroglyphs

(p.109) 6 The Decipherment of the Hieroglyphs
Wonderful Things

Jason Thompson

American University in Cairo Press

The initial hope that the Rosetta Stone would quickly lead to decipherment of the hieroglyphs and translation of the ancient Egyptian language were disappointed. Several scholars, including Silvestre de Sacy, made determined efforts, but with marginal results at best. The first significant steps were taken by the Scottish polymath Thomas Young, and the breakthrough was achieved by Jean François Champollion in 1822, although controversy lingers about the respective values of their accomplishments. With patronage from the influential Duke of Blacas, Champollion extended his initial work through study in European museums and moved beyond cracking the hieroglyphic script to some understanding of the ancient Egyptian language. Blacas also secured a post in the Louvre for Champollion who began building that museum's Egyptian collection. Well-connected scholars like Sir William Gell ensured interchange of information.

Keywords:   Silvestre de Sacy, Thomas Young, Jean François Champollion, Lettre à M. Dacier, Précis du Système hiéroglyphique, Duke of Blacas, Sir William Gell, Louvre, Rosetta Stone

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