The Rosetta Stone is a large gray stele naturally tinted blue and pink measuring almost four feet high, over two feet wide and almost a foot thick.
It is a fragment of a larger, original stone, and was discovered in 1799 by a captain of Napoleon’s army, Pierre-François Bouchard, near Alexandria in the proximity of Rashid (Rosetta) in the Nile Delta.
The stone is inscribed with an order issued at Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC by King Ptolemy V. The top and middle texts are in Ancient Egyptian using hieroglyphic and Demotic scripts; the bottom is in Ancient Greek.
Ptolemy’s decree is mostly the same in all three languages, so the Rosetta Stone was used to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Before the discovery of the stone, the hieroglyphs had been undecipherable.¹
The English scientist, physician and Egyptologist Thomas Young – famous for his double slit experiment – helped to decipher the Rosetta Stone.
The stone was probably first displayed in a temple. One theory suggests it was moved sometime between early Christian and medieval times, and later used as building material for Fort Julien near Rashid (Rosetta).
Today it sits in the British Museum, along with a replica in the BM’s King’s Library.
Not surprisingly, a contemporary language education tool is called Rosetta Stone.
Hieroglyphs of Blood and Bone Paperback on Amazon (griffinwords.com)