The Rosetta Stone and the Rebirth of Ancient Egypt

The Rosetta Stone and the Rebirth of Ancient Egypt

Hardback Wonders of the World

By (author) John Ray

List price $19.95

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  • Publisher: HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Hardback | 199 pages
  • Dimensions: 112mm x 186mm x 18mm | 227g
  • Publication date: 27 July 2007
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, MA
  • ISBN 10: 0674024931
  • ISBN 13: 9780674024939
  • Sales rank: 1,168,704

Product description

Read the Bldg Blog interview with Mary Beard about the Wonders of the World series (Part I and Part II) The Rosetta Stone is one of the world's great wonders, attracting awed pilgrims by the tens of thousands each year. This book tells the Stone's story, from its discovery by Napoleon's expedition to Egypt to its current--and controversial-- status as the single most visited object on display in the British Museum. A pharaoh's forgotten decree, cut in granite in three scripts--Egyptian hieroglyphs, Egyptian demotic, and ancient Greek--the Rosetta Stone promised to unlock the door to the language of ancient Egypt and its 3,000 years of civilization, if only it could be deciphered. Capturing the drama of the race to decode this key to the ancient past, John Ray traces the paths pursued by the British polymath Thomas Young and Jean-Francois Champollion, the "father of Egyptology" ultimately credited with deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. He shows how Champollion "broke the code" and explains more generally how such deciphering is done, as well as its critical role in the history of Egyptology. Concluding with a chapter on the political and cultural controversy surrounding the Stone, the book also includes an appendix with a full translation of the Stone's text. Rich in anecdote and curious lore, "The Rosetta Stone and the Rebirth of Ancient Egypt" is a brilliant and frequently amusing guide to one of history's great mysteries and marvels.

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Review quote

Ray balances his acumen with accessibility in presenting the stele's history, which takes several forms. From a historical perspective, the text, a 196 BCE agreement between the Ptolemaic pharaoh and the Egyptian priesthood, opens a window on a culture and polity in distress. Another history is intellectual, that of the Rosetta Stone's spectacular role in the decipherment of hieroglyphics...Ruminating on whether it, or antiquities generally, should be repatriated, Ray underscores that its history continues. Concise and informative.--Gilbert Taylor"Booklist" (06/01/2007)