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RICHARD PARKINSON here tells the story of the Stone's discovery and the so-called battle of the decipherers which it inspired. Early Orientalists recognized immediately the potential of the Stone for the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Thomas Young made great advances, especially with the demotic text, but it was Jean-Francois Champollion who made the final breakthrough in 1822. In so doing he cracked much more than two Egyptian scripts and opened up ancient Egyptian culture as a whole.
PUBLISHED TO ACCOMPANY A MAJOR EXHIBITION at the British Museum celebrating the bicentenary of the Stone's discovery, and including a selective catalogue of the exhibits, this book also examines the wider issues of script and writing in ancient Egypt and beyond. Among the subjects discussed are the relationship between hieroglyphs and art, the social prestige of literacy, the power of writing, and the practical aspects of writing (scribal equipment and training). A brief description of other decipherments is also given, drawing on examples such as Linear B and Meroitic -- a language which remains to be read.
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