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One of the greatest linguists of all time

Egyptian Cipher

Ancient Egyptian mysteries fascinated the Greeks and Romans long before our era. However, at this point there was no one in the world who could read the script used by the Egyptians. The content of the hieroglyphs was an inscrutable mystery to Alexander of Macedon, Julius Caesar, and also Queen Cleopatra.

For almost two thousand years, no one has been able to crack the Egyptian cipher. It was even doubted whether it was even possible. It took a fortunate chance and a genius to read the hieroglyphs. The genius - Jean-François Champollion - was born in 1790. A lucky accident, that was the discovery of the Rosetta Stone happened nine years later. Soon the Egyptian hieroglyphs would speak, for the first time after thousands of years of silence.

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.

Ancient  Egypt & archeologyIn 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.

After being read by J.F. Champollion, many scholars in various European countries have dedicated themselves to studying its structure of the script created by the ancient Egyptians to write their own language. This began with German Egyptologists, and Adolf Erman was a pioneer in this field. The work undertaken by A. Erman was continued by his students and Egyptologists in university centers, working not only on the structure of the various stages of the development of the Egyptian language, but also on its vocabulary.

Do you want to know more about the wonderful history of Egypt? Check out our tours for more details!