Jean-François Champollion was born in Figeac in south-western France on 22 December 1790. He was privately educated until he was nine years old, when he was sent to join his brother at the Académie de Grenoble. In Grenoble, he focussed his study on the ancient languages of the east and of Egypt in particular.
In 1807, Jean-François moved to Paris, where he studied at the School of Oriental Languages at the College de France. Dedicating himself to the study of various oriental languages, he also began work on a dictionary and grammar of the Coptic language. He then returned to Grenoble as an assistant professor of History & in 1814 he published his two volumes, entitled 'L'Égypte sous les Pharaons'.
In 1815, whilst examining texts brought from Egypt, he began to identify a relationship between hieroglyphic and non-hieroglyphic scripts. His work caused a sensation, providing the long searched for solution to the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics.
In 1826, Champollion became director of the Egyptian Museum at the Louvre in Paris. From 1828 to 1830 he conducted his only expedition in Egypt. When he returned to Paris in 1831, a professorship in Egyptian history and archaeology was specially created for him.
Jean-François Champollion died young after deciphering the Rosetta Stone, which unlocked the keys to the many enigmatic and beautiful hieroglyphic texts discovered in ruins up and down the length of Egypt and gave modern people a much greater understanding of the great civilisation.
His great Egyptian grammar and dictionary was published by his brother following his death.