Letters silent if no one knows how to read them.In ancient Egypt, the most educated part of society were priests, and this class has disappeared in the Hellenistic period, when the decree of Emperor Theodosius I have closed the Egyptian temples.During the rule of the Greeks and then the Romans, even the language spoken by the Egyptians, it was lost, that we talk about the ability to read characters.

subsequently attempted to decipher the ancient Egyptian writing.It was trying to do, for example, a Jesuit priest Kircher in the 17th century. But success is not achieved.A breakthrough in this area was followed in the 19th century., And he indirectly contributed to Napoleon.

Rosetta Stone

Unlike many other conquerors, Napoleon took in their campaigns artists and scientists.It was no exception and the Egyptian campaign
1798-1801 gg.Napoleon conquered Egypt failed, but the artist sketched the pyramids and temples, copied the inscriptions found in them, and among the trophies was a flat slab of black basalt covered with inscriptions.In place of discovery called Rosetta stone slab.

This finding gave hope to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics, because along with the Egyptian text on it was a text in Greek, which scientists know well.But to compare the two texts was not easy: hieroglyphic inscription occupied 14 lines, and Greek - 54.

Researchers have remembered their ancient scientists Horapollo written in 4.book on Egyptian hieroglyphics.Horapollon claimed that Egyptian writing symbols not represent sounds and concepts.That explained why the Greek inscription shorter Egypt, but did not help deciphering.

Jean Champollion

Among the researchers were interested in the Egyptian script, was a French scientist Jean Champollion.This person was interested in Egypt since early youth: at 12 years old he knew Arabic, Coptic and Chaldean languages, 17 wrote the book "Egypt under the pharaohs", and at age 19 he became a professor.That honor belongs to this man deciphering hieroglyphics.

Unlike other scientists, Champollion did not follow the path indicated by Horapollo - not looking at the hieroglyphics symbols concepts.He noted that some combinations of characters enclosed in an oval, and suggested that the names of kings.In the Greek text there were the names of Ptolemy, Cleopatra, and find a match was not too difficult.So Champollion was the foundation of the alphabet.Explanation complicated by the fact that the characters were used as letters identifying sounds, only names, but in other places they are designated, and even the syllables of the word (in this Horapollon was right).But after a few years, scientists have said with certainty: "I can read any text written in hieroglyphs."

Subsequently scientist visited Egypt, where a half years explored hieroglyphic inscriptions.Soon after his return to France, Champollion died at the age of 41, and after the death of the scientist published his major work - "Egyptian Grammar".

Opening Champollion not immediately gained recognition - he challenged another 50 years.But then, by the method of Champollion was able to read other Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions, which confirmed that he was right.