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Cracking Codes: The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment

by

Cracking Codes: The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Napoleon's troops discovered a granitoid slab in the village of Rosetta in the western Delta in 1799. The Rosetta Stone was to become one of the most famous Egyptian antiquities in the world as well as an instantly recognizable icon of script and decipherment. In this exciting, beautifully illustrated work, Richard Parkinson tells the story of the Stone's discovery and the so-called battle of the decipherers that it inspired. Published to accompany a major exhibition at the British Museum celebrating the bicentenary of the Stone's discovery, and including a selective catalog of the exhibits, this book also examines the wider issues of script and writing in ancient Egypt and beyond.

The Rosetta Stone is a fragment of a stela inscribed with a priestly decree in honor of Ptolemy V. The main significance of the text lies not in its content, however, but in the fact that it is written in three scripts—hieroglyphic, demotic, and ancient Greek. Early Orientalists recognized immediately the potential of the Stone for the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Thomas Young made great advances, especially with the demotic text, but it was Jean-François Champollion who made the final breakthrough in 1822. In so doing he cracked much more than two Egyptian scripts: He opened up Egyptian culture as a whole to historians.

Among the subjects discussed in Cracking Codes are the relationship between hieroglyphs and art, the social prestige of literacy, and the power of writing and its practical aspects (scribal equipment and training). A brief description of other decipherments is also given, drawing on examples such as Linear B and Meroitic—a language which remains to be read.

A selection of the History Book Club, the Book-of-the-Month Club, and the Quality Paperback Book Club

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 202) and index.

About the Author

Richard Parkinson is Assistant Keeper in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum specializing in hieratic papyri and epigraphy. His publications include Voices from Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Middle Kingdom Writings (1991), Papyrus (with S. Quirke) and The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Egyptian Poems, 1940-1640 B.C.

Table of Contents

Deciphering the Rosetta Stone — Reading a text: the Egyptian scripts of the Rosetta Stone — Towards reading a cultural code: the uses of writing in ancient Egypt — The future: futher codes to crack.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780520222489
Subtitle:
The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment
Contribution:
Parkinson, Richard
Contribution:
Diffie, Whitfield
Contribution:
Fisher, M.
Author:
Parkinson, Richard
Contribution:
Fisher, M.
Author:
Parkinson, R. B.
Publisher:
University of California Press
Location:
Berkeley :
Subject:
Writing
Subject:
Ancient - General
Subject:
Archaeology
Subject:
Egypt
Subject:
Spies
Subject:
Ancient Languages
Subject:
Antiquities
Subject:
Egyptian language
Subject:
Ancient Languages - General
Subject:
Egypt Antiquities.
Subject:
Egyptian language -- Writing.
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
19990915
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
32 color, 161 b/w images
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
11 x 8.63 x 0.63 in 29 oz

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Related Subjects


History and Social Science » Anthropology » Ancient Egypt
History and Social Science » Archaeology » Ancient Languages
History and Social Science » Archaeology » Egypt

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