Rosetta Stone

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Rosetta (rōzĕtˈə), former name of Rashid (räshēdˈ), city (1986 pop. 51,789), N Egypt, in the Nile River delta. The city once dominated the region's rice market; rice milling and fish processing are the main industries of modern Rashid. Founded in the 9th cent., the city was formerly an important port but declined after the building (1819) of the Mahmudiyah Canal, which diverted its trade to Alexandria.

The Rosetta Stone is a granitoid slab inscribed in hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek with identical texts of a decree by a council of priests during the reign of Ptolemy V. Part of a stele dating from 196 B.C., it was found (1799) by Napoleon's troops near the city, was taken (1801) by the British, and since 1802 has been displayed at the British Museum. It gave Jean-François Champollion, Thomas Young, and others the key to Egyptian hieroglyphic.


See study by R. B. Parkinson (1999).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Rosetta Stone


a basalt slab with identical inscriptions in Egyptian hieroglyphics and demotic writing and in Greek. It was discovered in 1799 by the Frenchman Bouchard (Bous-sard), an officer of the French Army in Egypt, during the construction of Fort St. Julien, near Rosetta (Rashid) on the western arm of the Nile in the Nile delta. The stone is now in London’s British Museum. The texts were inscribed in 196 B. C. by Egyptian priests and represent an expression of thanks to Ptolemy V Epiphanes, who ruled from 204 B.C. to 180 B.C. Attempts to decipher the Egyptian texts were undertaken by the French orientalist Sylvestre de Sacy, the Swedish diplomat J. D. Akerblad, and the English physicist T. Young. The hieroglyphic text was deciphered by J.-F. Champollion in 1822, thus marking the beginning of the study of Egyptian hieroglyphics.


Livshits, I. G. “Deshifrovka egipetskikh ieroglifov Shampol’onom.” In J.-F. Champollion, O egipetskom ieroglificheskom alfavite. Leningrad, 1950. (Translated from French.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Rosetta Stone

inscribed in three languages; key to hieroglyphics. [Fr. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 935]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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