|19th century oil portrait by Leon Cogniet of Jean-François Champollion|
Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832) continued the work of A. I. Silvestre de Sacy and the Swedish diplomat, Jean David Akerblad in deciphering the Rosetta Stone. Champollion discovered that the hieroglyphic text was the translation of the Greek, not the reverse as had been thought. On September 17, 1822 Champollion read his Lettre a M. Dacier and exhibited his “Hieroglyphic Alphabet”, with its Greek and Demotic equivalents, before the Academy of Inscriptions in Paris. He further developed his system in a series of memoirs called Precis du systeme hieroglyphique des anciens Egyptiens, which he read in the Academy of Inscriptions in 1823. Champollion was assisted in his work when he had the opportunity to travel to Egypt and copy 2,000 pages of inscriptions in his own hand writing. Working from his meagre alphabet and skillfully applying his knowledge of Coptic and of the Rosetta stone, he successfully deciphered them.
|Page from Champollion's notes|
Photo by Dr. David E. Graves
Courtesy of the Trustees for the British Museum