Chronicle - The Key to the Land of Silence

The discovery of the Rosetta Stone in Egypt by Napoleon's team of French scholars was key to the translation of hieroglyphics. This programme reveals how the stone came to the British Museum and its importance for understanding both the ancient Egyptian language and Egypt's culture. Dating from the Greek period of rule in Egypt (330 to 30BC), the stone offers a translation of ancient Egyptian through its carved text in three different scripts: hieroglyphs, demotic Egyptian and Greek.

The publication of the work of French scholars in Egypt caused a sensation in the early 19th Century. Modern Egyptomania swept France and Britain. A Sevres porcelain dessert service on display at Apsley House in London shows scenes from the Egyptian expedition and incorporates miniature Egyptian buildings. This was especially commissioned by Napoleon for the Empress Josephine and then became the possession of the Duke of Wellington after the Napoleonic Wars.

↗ Originally broadcast 8 March 1977.

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