What was the Rosetta Stone? A Ptolemaic age granodiorite (similar to granite) stele (a kind of monument) inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V.

It contains versions written in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Ancient Greek. That is the key. It has essentially the same text in all three versions and so it became the key to understanding (translating) Egyptian hieroglyphs.

It has traveled a lot. It probably was displayed in a temple at Sais, moved during the early Christian or medieval period, used as building material for Fort Julien near Rosetta in the Nile Delta where it was rediscovered there by a soldier in 1799. When the British troops defeated the French in Egypt in 1801, the stone was taken to London. It is the most-visited object in the British Museum.

The term “Rosetta stone” is often used to mean a key that helps in the decryption of encoded information, or when a small sample is recognized as the clue to understanding a larger whole.

You may also know of Rosetta Stone as a brand of language-learning software

Rosetta@home is a distributed computing project that asks you to run their Rosetta program on your computer when you aren’t using it to help them speed up and extend their research. A network of computers as a super computer. They are trying to design new proteins to fight diseases such as HIV, Malaria, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

There is also the Rosetta Project that brings language specialists and native speakers together to develop an archive of 1,500 languages, intended to last from AD 2000 to 12,000.

The Rosetta spacecraft is on a ten-year mission to study the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, in the hopes that determining its composition will reveal the origins of the Solar System.

Unlocking mysteries.


Ptolemaic: Rosetta Stone

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