Rosetta Stone

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The Rosetta Stone is a granodiorite stele , found in 1799, inscribed with three versions of a decree issued at Memphis , Egypt , in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V . The top and middle texts are in Ancient Egyptian using hieroglyphic script and Demotic script, respectively, while the bottom is in Ancient Greek . As the decree is the same (with some minor differences) in all three versions, the Rosetta Stone proved to be the key to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs .

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The stone, carved in black granodiorite during the Hellenistic period, is believed to have originally been displayed within a temple, possibly at nearby Sais. It was probably moved during the early Christian or medieval 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 rediscovered there in July 1799 by a French soldier named 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 language. Lithographic copies and plaster casts began circulating among European museums and scholars. Meanwhile, British troops defeated the French in Egypt in 1801, and the original stone came into British possession under the Capitulation of Alexandria and was transported to London. It has been on public display at the British Museum almost continuously since 1802, and is the most-visited object there.

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