How was solved the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphics

In August 1799, the French engineers were digging a trench in the suburb of Rosetta, a town located near Alexandria. Bonaparte (from 1804 — French Emperor Napoleon I), invaded the country, preparing for a decisive battle for Egypt with other invaders — Turkish and English, and his troops with feverish speed strengthened bases on the coast.

Suddenly, one of the sappers shovel rattled against the stone. It was a massive slab of black basalt covered with mysterious clearly carved inscriptions. Detachment commander ordered to clean it from dust and dirt, and deliver to the headquarters.

French scientists who accompanied Napoleon, quickly established that the handwriting on the plate were three kinds. 54 bottom lines were written in Greek, easily read and translated. They contained a ruling Egyptian priests from 196 BC. e. glorifying King Ptolemy V Epiphanes, who ruled in 203 -181 years. BC. e. This king, originally a stranger, Macedonian, was shrewd politician and he knew how to get along with the powerful priesthood. For this priest, in a decision proclaiming him a "good god."

On this text were shown some fancy icons: handles, bars, hooks. This part of the inscription was made in colloquial Egyptian, shorthand, so-called Demotic (from the Greek word "demotikos" — people) font. Even higher Intricate designs were countless drawings — creatures, birds, snakes, reeds, baskets, etc. (it was an ancient Egyptian picture writing — characters), and the text was written in the ancient Egyptian language, long ago forgotten. Scientists, it was clear that all three inscriptions contain the same text of the resolution. But no scientist in the camp of Bonaparte was unable to read the ancient Egyptian symbols. After more than 15 centuries have passed since the last dead sages, read and understand these mysterious letters, and took his secret to the grave, as many thought if ever.

Several years passed. Napoleon's military expedition to Egypt ended in failure. Rosetta Stone English as a trophy was in London and was placed in the British Museum, but a copy with him after the conclusion of peace in 1802 was brought to Paris. There she later began to study the young French scholar Jean Francois Champollion (1790-1832). It was a very gifted man. From childhood he was interested in the history of distant countries, especially Egypt. Later, he learned more than a dozen ancient and modern languages, including Coptic, are based on the ancient Egyptian (in Coptic spoken in Egypt in the Middle Ages).

Champollion was decided by all means to solve the hieroglyphic inscription on the Rosetta Stone. It seems that it is not that hard. After all, the next was the Greek translation. But in fact, proved to be much more complicated puzzle. Many scientists from various countries have tried to resolve it, but failed. Champollion himself did not immediately find the right path.

First thing to do was to find out what each picture — a letter or a whole word. In 14 lines of hieroglyphic text, of which only three have survived completely, and the rest were severely codec Xvid, repeated in various combinations of 166 different characters! Letters so the Egyptians could not be! In any language does not reach as many sounds.

Then, perhaps, each character passed the whole word, which consists of a number of letters, such as, for example, we mark № does the word "number"? These characters are called ideograms meaning. But in 14 lines, according to a parallel translation of the Greek, the word must be no more than 500, and in 1419 averaged Champollion characters: each of the 166 characters was repeated several times. How can we explain these differences?

After much painful hesitation researcher came to the original conjecture, brilliantly confirmed later. He suggested that the ancient Egyptians used the semantic characters (ideograms), interspersed with letters, sometimes even resorted to repetition, considering that they were not hurt. As we sometimes by writing the word "eight" one sign 8, just in case we repeat in brackets (eight).

But how to unravel the meaning of individual characters? What are the words, and what — the letters? And what kind of sound means this or that letter?

The letters were to be found primarily in their own names, the sound of which was already known. Fortunately, the name Ptolemy, out of respect to the king, was placed in an oval frame, circled the so-called cartouches (see Fig. Right). Clearly, the first sign in the oval meant "n", the second — "r", etc. But then there was a new obstacle. Among the Greeks, the name of Ptolemy consisted of 10 letters — Ptolemaios and the Egyptians wrote it only 7 letters (we pronounce the "Ptolemy").

Champollion remembered that in the Hebrew and Arabic vowels were not. Maybe they were not the Egyptians? However, then inside the cartouche should be 7, but only 5 characters. Again, the ends do not add up. Champollion finally realized that, as a rare exception, when I had to write foreign names, and some Egyptians designated vowel sounds close to them polusoglasnymi. Hence, there are two extra characters.

Having looked exactly the name of the king, Champollion began to analyze other words. It turned out that the word "letter", as well as the word "Lord," "God" and some others, written by one symbolic sign depicting a written instrument, that is, in fact, had been painted. But the word "monument" was written by five characters, of which the last one was an illustration (image semicircular stone slab).

So, slowly, word by word, with great difficulty, Francois Champollion began to read the ancient Egyptian inscriptions.

September 14, 1822 Champollion first make sure you can read and translate any ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic text. Excited, he ran into the office of his brother — Professor Jacques Joseph Champollion — and threw him on the table a few written pages, shouting: "In your hands opening!" — And then he passed out from exhaustion.

27 September of the same year he made a report of his discovery in the Paris Academy. Later Francois Champollion read and explained a number of ancient texts, chronicles, songs, spells, etc. Champollion inaugurated a new science — Egyptology. In 1828, realized his dream: he visited Egypt and took copies of the inscriptions on the walls of temples and tombs, on statues and obelisks. But the terrible mental strain undermined his health. In the midst of his research, only 42 years old, Francois Champollion died of exhaustion. His work continues, scientists in several countries, including Egyptologists of our country. Among them are such prominent scholars as Academician BA Turaev, Academician VV Struve etc.

In addition to the inscriptions on stone tablets (like the known Rosetta) were found sheets of papyrus. To such leaflets Egyptian scribes affixed split reed, dip it in black and red ink. Prominent Russian Egyptologist VS Golenishchev brought from Egypt to Moscow a few very valuable papyri with interesting inscriptions. On one of them Egyptian mathematics teacher, who lived almost four thousand years ago, wrote math problems and geometric theorems. Can be read on another account of the journey to Phoenicia Egyptian Unuamona committed 3000 years ago. Many other papyri held in the State Hermitage Museum in Leningrad.

Category: Mystery stories

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