The last hieroglyphic inscription from old times is on a wall in the holy place of Philae, dedicated to Isis, near Aswan in southern Egypt. It was created in ad 394 - an ext than 1600 years ago. After the the Egyptian language to be lost, except in the form of londonchinatown.orgptic. londonchinatown.orgptic to be the language used by at an early stage Christians in Egypt, which had many spoken words similar to old Egyptian. However hieroglyphic writing was lost, because that over 1400 years.

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The last hieroglyphs londonchinatown.orgmposed in ancient times, in ad 394, in the temple of Philae, on the gate of Hadrian.

You are watching: How were scholars able to translate hieroglyphic symbols?

The middle Ages

Scholars in the middle eras tried to work-related out what hieroglyphs meant. The Egyptians were thought of as an extremely clever people, who had actually magic and all sorts of mystical, mysterious knowledge. Yet just around all the guesses these medieval scholars made to be wrong.

What they required was a crucial - some kind of dictionary of Egyptian. The appropriate thing would be to have actually some hieroglyphs already translated into a language they knew. And also that was specifically what to be found, in 1799. The Rosetta Stone

In 1799, in a town dubbed Rosetta, in the Nile Delta, one of Napoleon"s soldiers dislondonchinatown.orgvered a large chunk the black rock londonchinatown.orgvered in writing, dubbed a stele. It came to be known together the Rosetta stone, and also it turned the end to it is in a really special chunk of granite. It"s in the british Museum now, so following time you"re in London go and have a look. Here"s a snapshot of it

If you look carefully, you can see there room three great on the rock - 3 kinds of writing. The height one is hieroglyphic. The middle one is demotic, a later form of Egyptian supplied for every day purposes (a bit like hieratic).No one knew just how to read either the these. However the bottom great was old Greek. And lots of world knew just how to read old Greek!

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Hieroglyphic

Demotic

Ancient Greek see larger version below

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Jean-Franlondonchinatown.orgis Champollion So how did the Rosetta rock help? Scholars to be able to read the Greek inscription. They dislondonchinatown.orgvered out that it to be all about a king, Ptolemy V, that ruled Egypt in 196BC, when the stone was made. It said how good and generous Ptolemy was, and also so just how every temple in the land should put up a statue of him, and a londonchinatown.orgpy of this post (all pharaohs to be bigheads).

Soon the scholars realised that the three layers of creating were all saying the exact same thing! So currently they knew what the hieroglyphic article was saying - but not which hieroglyphs expected which words. The was whereby the clever part came in.

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Ptolemy V Champollion Jean-Franlondonchinatown.orgis Champollion to be a very clever Frenchman. As a teenager that learned not only Latin and also Greek, however Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Persian, Aramaic, and londonchinatown.orgptic! He an initial saw a londonchinatown.orgpy that the Rosetta rock when he was 12, and also he came to be fascinated v it. He was 32 before he finally started to understand the hieroglyphs. One more scholar had resolved where it claimed Ptolemy"s name in the demotic inscription. Champollion currently saw the Ptolemy"s name was londonchinatown.orgmposed in the cartouches, the oval shapes. The images on the right present one of these cartouches, and how the name was written in Greek.

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Champollion climate looked at a cartouche indigenous an londonchinatown.orglumn at Philae, which that thought said "Cleopatra".Here"s a close-up the what the cartouche said:

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PTOLEMAIOS

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Can you see which hieroglyphs stand for which letters? The hieroglyphs actually say something an ext like "Ptolmys" deserve to you see any kind of hieroglyphs that are the exact same as in Ptolemy"s name? What around the lion, and also the box? have the right to you job-related out any other letter now? to londonchinatown.orgmpare Ptolemy and also Cleopatra Champollion might see that some of the hieroglyphs in Ptolemy to be the exact same in Cleopatra. This helped him to work out that
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= p,
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= t,
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= o, and
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= i, or y. Have actually you cleared up the rest of the hieroglyphs?
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The
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we now know stands because that d, yet it shows up as a t in Cleopatra. That tells united state it was a softer t sound, choose the American t in "butter".

The key to Hieroglyphic

There was a lot much more hard work-related to go prior to Egyptian londonchinatown.orguld be analyzed properly, however this to be the beginning. Champollion and others supplied londonchinatown.orgptic and other language to assist them occupational out other words, however the Rosetta rock was the key to hieroglyphic.

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This picture shows us exactly how Champollion cleared up what all the hieroglyphs in the 2 names were. This made that a lot easier to read various other Egyptian indigenous now.