On July 19th 1799, during Napoleon Bonaparte’sEgyptian campaign, a French soldier discovered a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria.
More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artefact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly 2,000 years.
When Napoleon, an emperor known for his enlightened view of education, art and culture, invaded Egypt in 1798, he took along a group of scholars and told them to seize…
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