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Rosetta Stone 5 0 37 Download


The stone was carved during the Hellenistic period and is believed to have originally been displayed within a temple, possibly at Sais. It was probably moved in late antiquity or during the Mamluk period, and was eventually used as building material in the construction of Fort Julien near the town of Rashid (Rosetta) in the Nile Delta. It was found there in July 1799 by French officer Pierre-François Bouchard during the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt. It was the first Ancient Egyptian bilingual text recovered in modern times, and it aroused widespread public interest with its potential to decipher this previously untranslated hieroglyphic script. Lithographic copies and plaster casts soon began circulating among European museums and scholars. When the British defeated the French they took the stone to London under the Capitulation of Alexandria in 1801. Since 1802, it has been on public display at the British Museum almost continuously and is its most visited object.




Rosetta Stone 5 0 37 Download



The Rosetta Stone is listed as "a stone of black granodiorite, bearing three inscriptions ... found at Rosetta" in a contemporary catalogue of the artefacts discovered by the French expedition and surrendered to British troops in 1801.[1] At some period after its arrival in London, the inscriptions were coloured in white chalk to make them more legible, and the remaining surface was covered with a layer of carnauba wax designed to protect it from visitors' fingers.[2] This gave a dark colour to the stone that led to its mistaken identification as black basalt.[3] These additions were removed when the stone was cleaned in 1999, revealing the original dark grey tint of the rock, the sparkle of its crystalline structure, and a pink vein running across the top left corner.[4] Comparisons with the Klemm collection of Egyptian rock samples showed a close resemblance to rock from a small granodiorite quarry at Gebel Tingar on the west bank of the Nile, west of Elephantine in the region of Aswan; the pink vein is typical of granodiorite from this region.[5]


The Rosetta Stone is 1,123 millimetres (3 ft 8 in) high at its highest point, 757 mm (2 ft 5.8 in) wide, and 284 mm (11 in) thick. It weighs approximately 760 kilograms (1,680 lb).[6] It bears three inscriptions: the top register in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the second in the Egyptian Demotic script, and the third in Ancient Greek.[7] The front surface is polished and the inscriptions lightly incised on it; the sides of the stone are smoothed, but the back is only roughly worked, presumably because it would have not been visible when the stele was erected.[5][8]


The Rosetta Stone is a fragment of a larger stele. No additional fragments were found in later searches of the Rosetta site.[9] Owing to its damaged state, none of the three texts is complete. The top register, composed of Egyptian hieroglyphs, suffered the most damage. Only the last 14 lines of the hieroglyphic text can be seen; all of them are broken on the right side, and 12 of them on the left. Below it, the middle register of demotic text has survived best; it has 32 lines, of which the first 14 are slightly damaged on the right side. The bottom register of Greek text contains 54 lines, of which the first 27 survive in full; the rest are increasingly fragmentary due to a diagonal break at the bottom right of the stone.[10]


Napoleon's 1798 campaign in Egypt inspired a burst of Egyptomania in Europe, and especially France. A corps of 167 technical experts (savants), known as the Commission des Sciences et des Arts, accompanied the French expeditionary army to Egypt. On 15 July 1799, French soldiers under the command of Colonel d'Hautpoul were strengthening the defences of Fort Julien, a couple of miles north-east of the Egyptian port city of Rosetta (modern-day Rashid). Lieutenant Pierre-François Bouchard spotted a slab with inscriptions on one side that the soldiers had uncovered.[37] He and d'Hautpoul saw at once that it might be important and informed General Jacques-François Menou, who happened to be at Rosetta.[A] The find was announced to Napoleon's newly founded scientific association in Cairo, the Institut d'Égypte, in a report by Commission member Michel Ange Lancret noting that it contained three inscriptions, the first in hieroglyphs and the third in Greek, and rightly suggesting that the three inscriptions were versions of the same text. Lancret's report, dated 19 July 1799, was read to a meeting of the Institute soon after 25 July. Bouchard, meanwhile, transported the stone to Cairo for examination by scholars. Napoleon himself inspected what had already begun to be called la Pierre de Rosette, the Rosetta Stone, shortly before his return to France in August 1799.[9]


The discovery was reported in September in Courrier de l'Égypte, the official newspaper of the French expedition. The anonymous reporter expressed a hope that the stone might one day be the key to deciphering hieroglyphs.[A][9] In 1800 three of the commission's technical experts devised ways to make copies of the texts on the stone. One of these experts was Jean-Joseph Marcel, a printer and gifted linguist, who is credited as the first to recognise that the middle text was written in the Egyptian demotic script, rarely used for stone inscriptions and seldom seen by scholars at that time, rather than Syriac as had originally been thought.[9] It was artist and inventor Nicolas-Jacques Conté who found a way to use the stone itself as a printing block to reproduce the inscription.[38] A slightly different method was adopted by Antoine Galland. The prints that resulted were taken to Paris by General Charles Dugua. Scholars in Europe were now able to see the inscriptions and attempt to read them.[39]


After Napoleon's departure, French troops held off British and Ottoman attacks for another 18 months. In March 1801, the British landed at Aboukir Bay. Menou was now in command of the French expedition. His troops, including the commission, marched north towards the Mediterranean coast to meet the enemy, transporting the stone along with many other antiquities. He was defeated in battle, and the remnant of his army retreated to Alexandria where they were surrounded and besieged, with the stone now inside the city. Menou surrendered on August 30.[40][41]


Hutchinson claimed that all materials were property of the British Crown, but French scholar Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire told Clarke and Hamilton that the French would rather burn all their discoveries than turn them over, referring ominously to the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. Clarke and Hamilton pleaded the French scholars' case to Hutchinson, who finally agreed that items such as natural history specimens would be considered the scholars' private property.[41][43] Menou quickly claimed the stone, too, as his private property.[44][41] Hutchinson was equally aware of the stone's unique value and rejected Menou's claim. Eventually an agreement was reached, and the transfer of the objects was incorporated into the Capitulation of Alexandria signed by representatives of the British, French, and Ottoman forces.


Turner brought the stone to England aboard the captured French frigate HMS Egyptienne, landing in Portsmouth in February 1802.[46] His orders were to present it and the other antiquities to King George III. The King, represented by War Secretary Lord Hobart, directed that it should be placed in the British Museum. According to Turner's narrative, he and Hobart agreed that the stone should be presented to scholars at the Society of Antiquaries of London, of which Turner was a member, before its final deposit in the museum. It was first seen and discussed there at a meeting on 11 March 1802.[B][H]


In 1802, the Society created four plaster casts of the inscriptions, which were given to the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh and to Trinity College Dublin. Soon afterwards, prints of the inscriptions were made and circulated to European scholars.[E] Before the end of 1802, the stone was transferred to the British Museum, where it is located today.[46] New inscriptions painted in white on the left and right edges of the slab stated that it was "Captured in Egypt by the British Army in 1801" and "Presented by King George III".[2]


The stone has been exhibited almost continuously in the British Museum since June 1802.[6] During the middle of the 19th century, it was given the inventory number "EA 24", "EA" standing for "Egyptian Antiquities". It was part of a collection of ancient Egyptian monuments captured from the French expedition, including a sarcophagus of Nectanebo II (EA 10), the statue of a high priest of Amun (EA 81), and a large granite fist (EA 9).[47] The objects were soon discovered to be too heavy for the floors of Montagu House (the original building of The British Museum), and they were transferred to a new extension that was added to the mansion. The Rosetta Stone was transferred to the sculpture gallery in 1834 shortly after Montagu House was demolished and replaced by the building that now houses the British Museum.[48] According to the museum's records, the Rosetta Stone is its most-visited single object,[49] a simple image of it was the museum's best selling postcard for several decades,[50] and a wide variety of merchandise bearing the text from the Rosetta Stone (or replicating its distinctive shape) is sold in the museum shops.


The Rosetta Stone was originally displayed at a slight angle from the horizontal, and rested within a metal cradle that was made for it, which involved shaving off very small portions of its sides to ensure that the cradle fitted securely.[48] It originally had no protective covering, and it was found necessary by 1847 to place it in a protective frame, despite the presence of attendants to ensure that it was not touched by visitors.[51] Since 2004 the conserved stone has been on display in a specially built case in the centre of the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery. A replica of the Rosetta Stone is now available in the King's Library of the British Museum, without a case and free to touch, as it would have appeared to early 19th-century visitors.[52]


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