The Rosetta Stone is one of the world’s great wonders, attracting awed pilgrims by the tens of thousands each year. This book tells the Stone’s story, from its discovery by Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt to its current—and controversial—status as the single most visited object on display in the British Museum.
A pharaoh’s forgotten decree, cut in granite in three scripts—Egyptian hieroglyphs, Egyptian demotic, and ancient Greek—the Rosetta Stone promised to unlock the door to the language of ancient Egypt and its 3,000 years of civilization, if only it could be deciphered. Capturing the drama of the race to decode this key to the ancient past, John Ray traces the paths pursued by the British polymath Thomas Young and Jean-François Champollion, the “father of Egyptology” ultimately credited with deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. He shows how Champollion “broke the code” and explains more generally how such deciphering is done, as well as its critical role in the history of Egyptology. Concluding with a chapter on the political and cultural controversy surrounding the Stone, the book also includes an appendix with a full translation of the Stone’s text.
Rich in anecdote and curious lore, The Rosetta Stone and the Rebirth of Ancient Egypt is a brilliant and frequently amusing guide to one of history’s great mysteries and marvels.
[Ray] successfully captures the West’s fascination with Egypt. Always the master of his subject, he entertains rather than lectures, is sparing with minutiae but still finds space for telling detail.
Ray writes knowledgeably about all…aspects of the stone, drawing on four decades of engagement with ancient Egypt…[and] sheds new light on topics such as the fragile political position of the stone’s hero, teenage pharaoh Ptolemy V, and the issue of whether the stone should one day be returned to Egypt.
A wonderful introduction not only to the Rosetta Stone and its story, but also to the growth and development of modern Egyptology… This informative text has an appealing, conversational tone that…[is] especially welcoming.
Ray balances his acumen with accessibility in presenting the stele’s history… Concise and informative.
[T]he Rosetta stone has an interesting history as the codex for the language of ancient Egypt—and John Ray tells its story well and succinctly.
- 208 pages
- 4-1/2 x 7-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.