The Rosetta Stone: What is it and why was it so important?

Before the Rosetta Stone, no one was able to decipher the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and archaeologists were hard pressed to figure out what the symbols meant. Many slaved hours away over tiny bits and pieces of what could have been thousands of different symbols and meanings.

This all changed with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is just a small portion of a larger stele, or stone slab, which has been lost to society. That being said, the portion that was recovered contained enough text to do what archaeologists couldn’’t do alone, namely decipher ancient Egyptian symbols.

The Rosetta stone contained text in three languages, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Egyptian demotic script, and finally, Ancient Greek. Since all three sections contained roughly the same text, early nineteenth century scholars were able to use the ancient Greek writings to finally uncover the long lost hieroglyphs.

‘So why is it important to us?’ you may ask yourself. Well, the Rosetta Stone, like many other historical finds, is important to the world not only because of its ability to unlock an ancient language that had been lost to the world, but to understand the culture of the people themselves.Without the Rosetta Stone, how can we, as humans today, relate to a past not of our own?The Rosetta Stone is such an important piece of history that it’s currently being displayed in the British Museum. Aside from one small break in 1917, due to a major bomb threat in London, the Rosetta Stone has called the British Museum its home since 1802.

You can get a Rosetta Stone magnet or socks from the British Museum gift shop, as I have, and there’s even a popular language learning software named after it.

I’m not sure where we would be today without the Rosetta Stone, but I do know that things would be very different. Ancient Egyptian would probably be even more mystical now that it’s ever been, but then again, I could be very wrong.

I suppose that all we’ll ever know is the Rosetta Stone, unless, of course, we ever discover more of it.

 

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