The decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822 is often acclaimed as the most important event in the history of Egyptology. There had been no proper understanding of the ancient Egyptian language and script until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and its eventual decryption. But the history of the Rosetta Stone is also linked to the story of collecting on the Eastern frontier of European imperialism. The Egyptian objects seized from Napoleon’s legion by the British army were effectively the first large-scale collection to be given to the British Museum in 1802. Today it is the Museum’s most visited object and an icon for all attempts to unlock the ancient past. The lecture will address this multi-layered story of the Rosetta Stone’s life from composing, distributing and inscribing an ancient decree to its impact for modern Egyptology and the British Museum.
As the Curator of Egyptian Written Culture at the British Museum, Ilona Regulski is responsible for the papyrus collection and other inscribed material in the collection, including the Rosetta Stone. Her areas of expertise include epigraphy and palaeography from the Early Dynastic period through the New Kingdom.
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