During Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, a group of his soldiers discover a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta. Ancient Greek script on the stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed in the second century B.C. The “Rosetta Stone” was studied for two decades before French Egyptologist Jean François Champollion made a startling discovery:
The two Egyptian scripts on the stone–hieroglyphic and demotic–belonged to the same spoken language. The artefact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly two millennia. With his knowledge of demotic, Champollion was able to decipher the hieroglyphics, and the language and culture of ancient Egypt was suddenly open to scientists as never before.