By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Rosetta Stone
Author: Budge, E. A. Wallis (Ernest Alfred Wallis), Sir
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Rosetta Stone" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)

                             ROSETTA STONE


                      SOLD AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM.


                           _Price Sixpence._

                         [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.]


                           HARRISON AND SONS,


[Illustration: Frontispiece]


                           THE ROSETTA STONE.

                      THE DISCOVERY OF THE STONE.

The famous slab of black basalt which stands at the southern end of the
Egyptian Gallery in the British Museum, and which has for more than a
century been universally known as the “Rosetta Stone,” was found at a
spot near the mouth of the great arm of the Nile that flows through the
Western Delta to the sea, not far from the town of “Rashîd,” or as
Europeans call it, “Rosetta.” According to one account it was found
lying on the ground, and according to another it was built into a very
old wall, which a company of French soldiers had been ordered to remove
in order to make way for the foundations of an addition to the fort,
afterwards known as “Fort St. Julien.”[1] The actual finder of the
Stone was a French Officer of Engineers, whose name is sometimes spelt
Boussard, and sometimes Bouchard, who subsequently rose to the rank of
General, and was alive in 1814. He made his great discovery in August,
1799. Finding that there were on one side of the Stone lines of strange
characters, which it was thought might be writing, as well as long
lines of Greek letters, Boussard reported his discovery to General
Menou, who ordered him to bring the Stone to his house in Alexandria.
This was immediately done, and the Stone was, for about two years,
regarded as the General’s private property. When Napoleon heard of the
Stone, he ordered it to be taken to Cairo and placed in the “Institut
National,” which he had recently founded in that city. On its arrival
in Cairo it became at once an object of the deepest interest to the
body of learned men whom Napoleon had taken with him on his expedition
to Egypt, and the Emperor himself exhibited the greatest curiosity in
respect of the contents of the inscriptions cut upon it. He at once
ordered a number of copies of the Stone to be made for distribution
among the scholars of Europe, and two skilled lithographers, “citizens
Marcel and Galland,” were specially brought to Cairo from Paris to make
them. The plan which they followed was to cover the surface of the
Stone with printer’s ink, and then to lay upon it a sheet of paper
which they rolled with india-rubber rollers until a good impression had
been taken. Several of these ink impressions were sent to scholars of
great repute in many parts of Europe, and in the autumn of 1801 General
Dagua took two to Paris, where he committed them to the care of
“citizen Du Theil” of the Institut National of Paris.

Footnote 1:

  This fort is marked on Napoleon’s Map of Egypt, and it stood on the
  left or west bank of the Rosetta arm of the Nile.


After the successful operations of Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt in the
spring of 1801, a Treaty of Capitulation was drawn up, and by Article
XVI the Rosetta Stone and several other large and important Egyptian
antiquities were surrendered to General Hutchinson at the end of August
in that year. Some of these he despatched at once to England in H.M.S.
“Admiral,” and others in H.M.S. “Madras,” but the Rosetta Stone did not
leave Egypt until later in the year. After the ink impressions had been
taken from it, the Stone was transferred from Cairo to General Menou’s
house in Alexandria, where it was kept covered with cloth and under a
double matting. In September, 1801, Major-General Turner claimed the
Stone by virtue of the Treaty mentioned above, but as it was generally
regarded as the French General’s private property, the surrender of it
was accompanied by some difficulty. In the following month
Major-General Turner obtained possession of the Stone, and embarked
with it on H.M.S. “L’Égyptienne,” and arrived at Portsmouth in
February, 1802. On March 11 it was deposited at the rooms of the
Society of Antiquaries of London, where it remained for a few months,
and the writings upon it were submitted to a very careful examination
by many Oriental and Greek scholars. In July the President of the
Society caused four plaster casts of the Stone to be made for the
Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Dublin, and had good
copies of the Greek text engraved, and despatched to all the great
Universities, Libraries, Academies and Societies in Europe. Towards the
close of the year the Stone was removed from the Rooms of the Society
of Antiquaries to the British Museum, where it was mounted and at once
exhibited to the general public.

                       DESCRIPTION OF THE STONE.

The Rosetta Stone in its present state is an irregularly-shaped slab of
compact black basalt, which measures about 3 feet 9 inches in length, 2
feet 4-1/2 inches in width, and 11 inches in thickness. The top right
and left hand corners, and the right hand bottom corner, are wanting.
It is not possible to say how much of the Stone is missing, but judging
by the proportion which exists between the lengths of the inscriptions
that are now upon it, we may assume that when it was complete it was at
least 12 inches longer than it is now. The upper end of the Stone was
probably rounded, and, if we may judge from the reliefs found on stelæ
of this class of the Ptolemaïc Period, the front of the rounded part
was sculptured with a figure of the Winged Disk of Horus of Edfû,
having pendent uraei, one wearing the Crown of the South, and the other
the Crown of the North. (See the Cast of the Decree of Canopus in Bay
28, No. 957.) Below the Winged Disk there may have been a relief, in
which the king was seen standing, with his queen, in the presence of a
series of gods, similar to that found on one of the copies mentioned
below of the inscriptions on the Rosetta Stone. Whatever the sculptured
decoration may have been, it is tolerably certain that, when the Stone
was in a complete state, it must have been between five and six feet in
height, and that when mounted upon a suitable plinth, and set up near
the statue of the king in whose honour it was engraved, it formed a
prominent monument in the temple in which it was set up.

The INSCRIPTION on the Rosetta Stone is written in two languages, that
is to say, in EGYPTIAN and in GREEK. The EGYPTIAN portion of it is cut
upon it in: I. the HIEROGLYPHIC CHARACTER, that is to say, in the old
picture writing which was employed from the earliest dynasties in
making copies of the Book of the Dead, and in nearly all state and
ceremonial documents that were intended to be seen by the public; and
II. the DEMOTIC CHARACTER, that is to say, the conventional,
abbreviated and modified form of the HIERATIC character, or cursive
form of hieroglyphic writing, which was in use in the Ptolemaïc Period.
The GREEK portion of the inscription is cut in ordinary uncials. The
hieroglyphic text consists of 14 lines only, and these correspond to
the last 28 lines of the Greek text. The Demotic text consists of 32
lines, the first 14 being imperfect at the beginnings, and the Greek
text consists of 54 lines, the last 26 being imperfect at the ends. A
large portion of the missing lines of the hieroglyphic text can be
restored from a stele discovered in 1898 at Damanhûr in the Delta
(Hermopolis Parva), and now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (No. 5576),
and from the copy of a text of the Decree cut on the walls of a temple
at Philæ, and the correctness of the restorations of broken passages in
the Demotic and Greek texts being evident, we are justified in assuming
that we have the inscription of the Rosetta Stone complete both in
Egyptian and Greek.


The first translation of the Greek text was made by the Rev. Stephen
Weston, and was read by him before the Society of Antiquaries of London
in April, 1802. This was quickly followed by a French translation made
by “citizen Du Theil,” who declared that the Stone was “a monument of
the gratitude of some priests of Alexandria, or some neighbouring
place, towards Ptolemy Epiphanes”; and a Latin translation by “citizen
Ameilhon” appeared in Paris in the spring of 1803. The first studies of
the Demotic text were those of Silvestre de Sacy and Åkerblad in 1802,
and the latter succeeded in making out the general meaning of portions
of the opening lines, and in identifying the equivalents of the names
of Alexander, Alexandria, Ptolemy, Isis, etc. Both de Sacy and Åkerblad
began their labours by attacking the Demotic equivalents of the
cartouches, i.e. the ovals containing royal names in the hieroglyphic
text. In 1818 Dr. Thomas Young compiled for the fourth volume of the
“Encyclopædia Britannica” (published in 1819) the results of his
studies of the texts on the Rosetta Stone, and among them was a list of
several alphabetic Egyptian characters to which, in most cases, he had
assigned correct values. He was the first to grasp the idea of a
phonetic principle in the reading of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, and he
was the first to apply it to their decipherment. Warburton, de Guignes,
Barthélemy and Zoëga all suspected the existence of alphabetic
hieroglyphics, and the three last-named scholars believed that the
oval, or cartouche [blank cartouche], contained a proper, or royal
name. But it was Young who first proved both points, and successfully
deciphered the name of Ptolemy on the Rosetta Stone, and that of
Berenice on another monument. Another successful decipherer at this
time was Mr. J. W. Bankes, who, in 1818, deciphered the name of
Cleopatra on the granite obelisk that he had excavated at Philæ in
1815. In 1822 the list of alphabetic Egyptian characters that had been
drawn up by Young was corrected and greatly enlarged by J. F.
Champollion, who, between that date and the year of his death,
correctly deciphered the hieroglyphic forms of the names and titles of
most of the Roman Emperors, and drew up a classified list of Egyptian
hieroglyphs, and formulated a system of grammar and general
decipherment which is the foundation whereon all later Egyptologists
have worked. The discovery of the correct alphabetic values of Egyptian
signs was most useful for reading names, but for translating the
Egyptian language a competent knowledge of Coptic was required. Now
Coptic is only a name meaning “Egyptian.” The Egyptians who embraced
Christianity after the preaching of Saint Mark at Alexandria are called
“Copts,” and the translations of the Holy Scriptures, Liturgies, etc.,
which they made from Greek into their native Egyptian language soon
after their conversion to Christianity, are said to be written in
“Coptic.” The knowledge of Coptic has never been lost, and a
comparatively large sacred literature has always been available in
manuscripts for study by scholars. Champollion, whilst still a youth in
the early years of the nineteenth century, realized the great
importance of Coptic for the purpose of Egyptian decipherment, and he
studied it to such good purpose that he became an authority on the
language and literature of the Copts. In his studies of the inscription
on the Rosetta Stone, his knowledge of Coptic enabled him to deduce the
phonetic values of many syllabic signs, and to assign correct readings
to many pictorial characters, the meanings of which were made known to
him by the Greek text on the Stone.

                        METHOD OF DECIPHERMENT.

The method by which the greater part of the Egyptian alphabet was
recovered is this: It was assumed correctly that the oval [blank
cartouche], or “cartouche” as it is called, always contained a royal
name. There is only one cartouche (five times repeated with slight
modifications) on the Rosetta Stone, and this was assumed to contain
the name of Ptolemy, because it was certain from the Greek text that
the inscription concerned a Ptolemy. It was also assumed that if the
cartouche did contain the name of Ptolemy, the characters in it would
have the sounds of the Greek letters, and that all together they would
represent the Greek form of the name of Ptolemy. Now on the obelisk
which Mr. Bankes had brought from Philæ there is an inscription in two
languages, Egyptian and Greek. In the Greek portion of it two royal
names are mentioned, that is to say, Ptolemy and Cleopatra, and on the
second face of the obelisk there are two cartouches, which occur close
together, and are filled with hieroglyphs which, it was assumed, formed
the Egyptian equivalents of these names. When these cartouches were
compared with the cartouche on the Rosetta Stone it was found that one
of them contained hieroglyphic characters that were almost identical
with those which filled the cartouche on the Rosetta Stone. Thus there
was good reason to believe that the cartouche on the Rosetta Stone
contained the name of Ptolemy written in hieroglyphic characters. The
forms of the cartouches are as follows:

        On the Rosetta Stone         [cartouche]
        On the Obelisk from Philæ    [cartouche]

The second of these cartouches contains the sign [glyph], which is
wanting in the first, and the single sign [glyph] takes the place of
the three signs [glyph] at the end of the first cartouche. Now it has
already been said that the name of Cleopatra was found in Greek on the
Philæ Obelisk, and the cartouche which was assumed to contain the
Egyptian equivalent of this name appears in this form:


Taking the cartouches which were supposed to contain the names of
Ptolemy and Cleopatra from the Philæ Obelisk, and numbering the signs
we have:

          Ptolemy, A.     [cartouche]
          Cleopatra, B.   [cartouche]

Now we see at a glance that No. 1 in A and No. 5 in B are identical,
and judging by their position only in the names they must represent the
letter P. No. 4 in A and No. 2 in B are identical, and arguing as
before from their position they must represent the letter L. As L is
the second letter in the name of Cleopatra, the sign No. 1 [glyph] must
represent K. Now in the cartouche of Cleopatra we know the values of
Signs Nos. 1, 2 and 5, so we may write them down as thus:


In the Greek form of the name of Cleopatra there are two vowels between
the L and the P, and in the hieroglyphic form there are two
hieroglyphs, [glyph] and [glyph], so we may assume that [glyph] = E and
[glyph] = O. In some forms of the cartouche of Cleopatra No. 7 [glyph]
is replaced by [glyph], which is identical with No. 2 in A and No. 10
in B. As T follows P in the name Ptolemy, and as there is a T in the
Greek form of the name of Cleopatra, we may assume that [glyph] and
[glyph] have substantially the same sound, and that that sound is T. In
the Greek form of the name Cleopatra there are two a’s, the positions
of which agree with No. 6 and No. 9, and we may assume that [glyph] has
the value of A. Substituting these values for the hieroglyphs in B we
may write it as thus:


Thomas Young noticed that the two signs [glyph] always followed the
name of a goddess, queen, or princess, and the other early decipherers
regarded the two signs as a mere feminine termination. The only sign
for which we have no phonetic equivalent is No. 8 [glyph] and it is
obvious that this must represent R. Inserting this value in the
cartouche we have the name of Cleopatra deciphered. Applying now the
values which we have learned from the cartouche of Cleopatra to the
cartouche of Ptolemy we may write it as thus:


We now see that the cartouche must be that of Ptolemy, but it is also
clear that there must be contained in it many other hieroglyphs which
do not form part of his name. Champollion found other forms of the
cartouche of Ptolemy, and the simplest of them was written thus:
[cartouche]. It was therefore evident that the other signs [glyph] were
royal titles corresponding to those found in the Greek text on the
Rosetta Stone meaning “ever-living, beloved of Ptah.” Now the Greek
form of the name Ptolemy, i.e. Ptolemaios, ends with S. We may assume
therefore that the last sign in the simplest form of the cartouche
given above has the phonetic value of S. The only hieroglyphs now
doubtful are [glyph] and [glyph], and their position in the name of
Ptolemy suggests that their phonetic values must be M and some vowel
sound in which the I sound predominates. These values, which were
arrived at by guessing and deduction, were applied by the early
decipherers to other cartouches, e.g.:

               1.    [cartouche]
               2.    [cartouche]

Now, in No. 1, we can at once write down the values of all the signs,
viz., P .  I .  L . A  . T .  R  .  A, which is obviously the Greek
name Philotera. In No. 2 we only know some of the hieroglyphs, and we
write the cartouche thus: [cartouche]. Now we know that [glyph] occurs
in the name Berenice, and that it represents N, and that [glyph] is the
last word of the transcript of the Greek title “Kaisaros,” and that it
therefore represents some S sound. Some of the forms of the cartouche
of Cleopatra begin with [glyph], and it is clear that its phonetic
value must be K. Inserting these values in the above cartouche we have:


which is clearly meant to represent the name “Alexandros,” or
Alexander. The position of the sign [glyph] shows that it represented
some sound of E or A.

Returning to the signs [glyph] which we have assumed to represent the
royal titles “ever-living, beloved of Ptah,” we have to decide whether
this assumption be correct or not. It was known by tradition and from
Coptic Vocabularies that the old Egyptian word for “life” or “living,”
was “ānkh,” or “ōnkh,” and that it was represented by the symbol
[glyph] which occurs several times in the inscriptions. It was
therefore guessed that the next signs [glyph] meant “ever.” The Coptic
Vocabularies state that one of the old Egyptian words for “ever, age,
eternity,” was Djet, and as we already know that the phonetic value of
the second sign in the word is T, we may assume that the value of
[glyph] is DJ, or TJ. The third sign [glyph] is a “determinative,” and
was not pronounced. Thus the first title [glyph] means “living ever,”
or “ever-living.” Of the remaining signs [glyph] we know that the two
first are P and T, i.e. the first two letters of the name of Ptah; the
third sign [glyph] must then have the value of H or something like it.
If the signs [glyph] form the name of Ptah, then the sign which follows
them must mean “loving,” or “loved.” Here again the Coptic helped the
early decipherers in assigning a phonetic value to [glyph], for the
Coptic word for to love is “mere,” ϻϵρϵ, and they assumed that the
value of the sign was “mer.” Now in the cartouche of Ptolemy on the
Rosetta Stone after the name Ptah [glyph], we have the signs [glyph],
and these are, clearly, a variant of [glyph]. We already know that
[glyph] = I, and therefore [glyph] must be the equivalent of [glyph]
and have the value of “mer.” By the comparison of texts containing
variant forms, and by the skilful use of his knowledge of Coptic,
Champollion succeeded in formulating the system of decipherment of
Egyptian hieroglyphs that is, substantially, that in use at the present


The inscription on the Rosetta Stone is a copy of the Decree passed by
the General Council of Egyptian priests assembled at Memphis to
celebrate the first commemoration of the coronation of Ptolemy V,
Epiphanes, king of all Egypt. The young king had been crowned in the
eighth year of his reign, therefore the first commemoration took place
in the ninth year, in the spring of the year B.C. 196. The original
form of the Decree is given by the Demotic section, and the
Hieroglyphic and Greek versions were made from it.

The inscription is dated on the fourth day of the Greek month Xandikos
(April), corresponding to the eighteenth day of the Egyptian month
Meshir, or Mekhir, of the ninth year of the reign of Ptolemy V,
Epiphanes, the year in which Aetus, the son of Aetus, was chief priest
and Pyrrha, the daughter of Philinus, and Areia, the daughter of
Diogenes, and Irene, the daughter of Ptolemy, were chief priestesses.
The opening lines are filled with a list of the titles of Ptolemy V,
and a series of epithets which proclaim the king’s piety towards the
gods, and his love for the Egyptians and his country. In the second
section of the inscription the priests enumerate the benefits which he
had conferred upon Egypt, and which may be thus summarized:

     1. Gifts of money and corn to the temples.

     2. Gifts of endowments to temples.

     3. Remission of one half of taxes due to the Government.

     4. Abolition of one half of the taxes.

     5. Forgiveness of debts owed by the people to the Government.

     6. Release of the prisoners who had been languishing in gaol
        for years.

     7. Abolition of the press-gang for sailors.

     8. Reduction of fees payable by candidates for the priesthood.

     9. Reduction of the dues payable by the temples to the

    10. Restoration of the services in the temples.

    11. Forgiveness of rebels, who were permitted to return to Egypt
        and live there.

    12. Despatch of troops by sea and land against the enemies of

    13. The siege and conquest of the town of Shekan (Lycopolis).

    14. Forgiveness of the debts owed by the priests to him.

    15. Reduction of the tax on byssus.

    16. Reduction of the tax on corn lands.

    17. Restoration of the temples of the Apis and Mnevis Bulls, and
        of the other sacred animals.

    18. Rebuilding of ruined shrines and sacred buildings, and
        providing them with endowments.

As a mark of the gratitude of the priesthood to the king for all these
gracious acts of Ptolemy V, it was decided by the General Council of
the priests of Egypt to “increase the ceremonial observances of honour
which are paid to Ptolemy, the ever-living, in the temples.” With this
object in view it was decided:

     1. To make statues of Ptolemy in his character of “Saviour
        of Egypt,” and to set up one in every temple of Egypt
        for the priests and people to worship.

     2. To make figures of Ptolemy [in gold], and to place them
        in gold shrines, which are to be set side by side with
        the shrines of the gods, and carried about in
        procession with them.

     3. To distinguish the shrine of Ptolemy by means of ten
        double-crowns of gold which are to be placed upon it.

     4. To make the anniversaries of the birthday and
        coronation days of Ptolemy, viz., the XVIIth and the
        XXXth days of the month Mesore, festival days for ever.

     5. To make the first five days of the month of Thoth days
        of festival for ever; offerings shall be made in the
        temples, and all the people shall wear garlands.

     6. To add a new title to the titles of the priests, viz.,
        “Priests of the beneficent god Ptolemy Epiphanes, who
        appeareth on earth,” which is to be cut upon the ring
        of every priest of Ptolemy, and inserted in every
        priestly document.

     7. That the soldiers may borrow the shrines with figures
        of Ptolemy inside them from the temples, and may take
        them to their quarters, and carry them about in

     8. That copies of this Decree shall be cut upon slabs of
        basalt in the “writing of the speech of the god,” i.e.
        hieroglyphs, and in the writing of the books, i.e.
        demotic, and in the writing of the Ueienin, i.e. Greek.
        “And a basalt slab on which a copy of this Decree is
        cut shall be set up in the temples of the first, second
        and third orders, side by side with the statue of
        Ptolemy, the ever-living god.”

                                               E. A. WALLIS BUDGE.

  Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities,
                   July 12th, 1913.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Rosetta Stone" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.