Jean-François Champollion

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Champollion, Jean-François


Born Dec. 24, 1790, in Figeac; died Mar. 4, 1832, in Paris. French scholar; founder of Egyptology. Member of the Académie des Inscriptions (1830).

After many years of studying the inscriptions of the Rosetta Stone, Champollion, in September 1822, set forth the main principles for the decipherment of the hieroglyphic writing of the ancient Egyptians. He also established the sequence of development of Egyptian writing—hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic. From 1828 to 1830 he headed an archaeological expedition to Egypt, where he collected and copied an enormous number of texts, ideograms, and records, which were published after Champollion’s death in Monuments de l’Egypte et de la Nubie. In 1831, Champollion accepted the chair of Egyptology, created especially for him, at the College de France; he was the first to compile a grammar and dictionary of the Egyptian language, which was published posthumously.

Champollion was an honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1826).


L’Egypte sous les Pharaons, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1814.
Grammaire égyptienne ... Paris, 1836.
Monuments de l’Egypte et de la Nubie, vols. 1–4. Paris, 1835–45.
In Russian translation:
O egipetskom ieroglificheskom alfavite. Moscow, 1950.


Hartleben, H. Champollion, sein Leben und sein Werk, vols. 1–2.
Berlin, 1906. Pourpoint, M. Champollion et l’énigme égyptienne. Paris, 1963.
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Summary: Given the wealth of knowledge we have about the lives of the ancient Egyptians, we sometimes take for granted that from Egyptian texts (as opposed to graphic depictions) this has only been available to us for the past two centuries, since hieroglyphics were first decoded by Jean-Francois Champollion, who published his translation of the Rosetta Stone hieroglyphs in 1822.
Cracking the Egyptian code: the revolutionary life of Jean-Francois Champollion.
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