The ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphs
(a form of pictorial letters) for writing. It is a lost language but the
the Rosetta allowed it to be deciphered.
The stone was unearthed by a soldier of Napoleon's Army in 1779 at Rosetta,
Alexandria during the construction
of a fortress. It is made of basalt stone and measured 125 X 80cm and contains
languages hieroglyphs, demotic
and Greek. There was a race to be the first to decipher the writings including
ophthalmologist Thomas Young. The
race was won by Jean-Francois Champollion who could read both Greek and
(which came from demotic). He was
able to work out the meaning of each hieroglyph by assuming that the stone
the same messages in three different
languages. The stone is preserved in the British Museum.