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The Rosetta Stone, with Egyptian hieroglyphs in the top section, demotic characters in the middle, —Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum
Inscribed stone slab, now in the British Museum, that provided an important key to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. An irregularly shaped block of black basalt with inscriptions in hieroglyphs, Demotic Egyptian, and Greek, it was discovered by Napoleon's troops near the town of Rosetta (Rashid), northeast of Alexandria, in 1799. The text concerns the deeds of Ptolemy V Epiphanes (205–180 BC) and dates from the ninth year of his reign. Its decipherment was begun by Thomas Young, who isolated the proper names in the Demotic version, and decisively completed by J.-F. Champollion, who grasped that some hieroglyphs were phonetic.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Rosetta Stone, visit Britannica.com.
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