Archeological Finds: Rosetta Stone

When Ptolemy V came into power at the age of five, he had a difficult time ahead of him due to the chaotic times that Egypt was experiencing. Some of the obstacles that he had to overcome included gaining back lands that were lost to others, as well as unifying his people and land. In order to accomplish all of this, Ptolemy’s priests decided to put out to the public a variety of decrees. These decrees were then inscribed onto stones and established all over Egypt. The copy of this decree was found on what is called the Rosetta Stone.


Sometimes mistaken for basalt, the Rosetta Stone is comprised of a dark gray-pinkish stone that is made from granite. On it, writing cab be found in two different languages, which is Greek, as well as Egyptian. Three different scripts can be identified on the stone, including Hieroglyphic, Demotic Egyptian and Greek. The stone has been used to unlock some of the mysteries associated with hieroglyphs.


Some of the elements that can be found on the stone include inscriptions, such as : “The new king, having received the kingship from his father…” The decree also deals with issues, including taxes, as well as the erection of temples. The Rosetta Stone dates back to 196 BC. The many different languages that are encountered on the stone comes from the fact that Greeks during this time were usually bilingual. The reason why the Greek language was used for inscriptions was because they had adapted pharonic rule at that time.


The Rosetta Stone is not the only stone of its kind, Ptomely III and IV also have stones associated with them. The first stone deals with leap year, while the second stone is referred to as the Stone of Canopus. The imperfect stone out of the bunch is the Stone of Canopus, where two copies are in existence. 2 ½ copies of the Rosetta Stone are in existence. When examining the stones, signs of overwriting can be seen.


The stone was discovered within the port city of Rashid by a French captain named Pierre-François Bouchard. In the past, the area used to be called Rosetta. Throughout the years, the Rosetta Stone has made its way to numerous locations and has changed many hands. The stone was brought to Britain, where it has been kept at the British Museum since the early 1800s.


The translation of the demotic text was completed in 1814 by Thomas Young and then went onto translating the hieroglyphic alphabet. Between the years of 1822 to 1824, another translator took over by the name of Jean-François Champollion. He continued to make strides from what Young had accomplished, thus earning the recognition of being the main translator of the Rosetta Stone.


It wasn’t until 2003 that the Egyptians made an effort to have the Rosetta Stone returned to their country. They wanted to reclaim a piece of their identity and history. As of yet, their demands have not been answered and the British have not obliged in returning the Rosetta Stone to Egypt.