Egypt Celebrates the 200-Year Anniversary of Deciphering the Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

Few objects have helped us understand the world as much as the Rosetta Stone. For centuries scholars had been trying to unravel the mystery of hieroglyphics, with many unsure if the words were phonetic or if they were meant to read from left to right, right to left, or even from top to bottom. However, 200 years ago on 27th September, 1822, a Frenchman by the name of Jean-Francois Champollion announced to the world that he had unlocked the secrets of the Rosetta Stone. By comparing the hieroglyphics with the demotic and ancient Greek script, after years of work he figured out how to read this ancient language. This meant that we could look back in time through the inscriptions on temples, tombs, and in manuscripts written by people thousands of years ago. The Rosetta Stone is one of Egypt’s most iconic objects, second only to the mask of Tutankhamun, and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and others have put on various events and workshops to celebrate the 200-year anniversary of its deciphering.

To mark the 200-year anniversary of the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone, which also marks the generally accepted definition of the beginning of the field of Egyptology, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has put on a wide array of events to celebrate the occasion. On the run up to the day, the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation put on several workshops for children and visitors to teach them how to read and write hieroglyphics. Images posted from their official social media accounts show a range of activities, with visitors even given the opportunity to have a go at carving some hieroglyphics themselves.

On September 27, which is also World Tourism Day, the Egyptian government decided to make almost all archaeological sites and museums free of charge for Egyptians, Arabs, Africans and all resident foreigners. The campaign seems to have received an encouraging response, with the iconic Egyptian Museum being inundated with eager visitors, as people flocked to the museum, even forming queues that spread outside the museum’s grounds.

The Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo has also put on two temporary exhibitions to mark the bicentenary. Of the two exhibitions, one focuses on the history of Egyptology as a field by displaying important objects and documents that detail the lives and works of the field’s most important scholars and discoveries. Alongside this, the museum has put on a photography exhibition of archival prints dating back to the nineteenth century showing the work of archeological missions and the history of the museum itself.

However, in the evening, the Egyptian Museum will also host a lavish event organised by the renowned event organisers Venture Lifestyle that will feature a live performances and luxury catering for the guests. Rabih Mokbel, CEO of Venture Lifestyle, enthusiastically told us that the event that will host numerous ambassadors and dignitaries and is indicative of the exciting changes happening in Egypt’s antiquities and tourism sector. Mokbel described the event as a reminder that while the museum is 120 years old and its contents thousands of years old, the museum sector in Egypt has an exciting future. Looking towards the future, Mokbel was very encouraged by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ vision for making the country’s museums and archaeological sights world-class destinations with a creative approach that builds upon the nation’s rich history.

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