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series of drafts of documents on potsherds and slices of limestone will be found in Table-case M in the Fourth Egyptian Room. In the copy of the Lord's Prayer (St. Matthew vi, 9) here appended the reader will find all the signs which are peculiar to Coptic save one (0). The dialect is that of Lower Egypt. The two words marked by asterisks are Greek, not Egyptian. πεπιωτ €τει NUBHOTI udpegTOTBO Peniót etkhen
ipheo: mareftoubo Our Father who art in the heavens, may be hallowed Nxenekp&M. ulepecs NXETEKULETOrpo. entche pekran.
entihe tekmetouro. thy name. May come
thy kingdom. пєтєдк шарєрушпи Фрні Бє тфє
Peteḥnak marefshópi caphriti khen the Thy will let it be
in the heaven
Decipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Before the close of the period of Roman rule in Egypt, the hieroglyphic system of writing fell into disuse, and its place was gradually taken by demotic, i.e., a conventional form of the hieratic, or cursive writing. When the Egyptians became converted to Christianity, they adopted the Greek alphabet, adding to it seven signs derived from demotic, to express the sounds peculiar to their language. The priests appear to have prosecuted some study of hieroglyphics until the end of the fifth century A.D., but soon after this the power to read and
Coptic inscription on a slice of limestone. [No. 10, Table-case M, Third Egyptian Room.]
understand them was lost, and until the beginning of the nineteenth century, no Oriental or European could read or understand a hieroglyphic inscription. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries many attempts were made by scholars to read and translate the Egyptian inscriptions, but no real progress was made until after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. This “ Stone” is a portion of a large black basalt stele measuring 3 feet 9 inches by 2 feet 41 inches, and is inscribed with fourteen lines of hieroglyphics, thirty-two
lines of demotic, and fifty-four lines of Greek. (See Southern Egyptian Gallery, No. 960.) It was found in 1798 by a French officer of artillery named Boussard, among the ruins of Fort Saint Julien, near the Rosetta mouth of the Nile, and was removed, in 1799, to the Institut National at Cairo, to be examined by the learned ; and Napoleon ordered the inscription to be engraved and copies of it to be submitted to the scholars and learned societies of Europe. In 1801 it passed into the possession of the British, and it was sent to England in February, 1802. It was exhibited for a few months in the rooms of the Society of Antiquaries, and then was finally deposited in the British Museum.
The first translation of the Greek text was made by Du Theil and Weston, in 1801-02, and they rightly declared that the stone was set up as the result of a Decree passed at 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 Decree sets forth that, because the king had given corn and money from his private resources to the temples, and had remitted taxes and released prisoners, and had abolished the pressgang and restored the worship of the gods, etc., the priests decreed that: ddditional honours be paid to the king and his ancestors; an image of the king be set up in every temple ; a statue and shrine be set up in every temple; a monthly festival be established on the birthday and coronation day of the king ; this Decree be engraved upon a hard stone stele in the writing of the priests (hieroglyphic), in the writing of books (demotic), and in the writing of the Greeks (Greek), and set up in every temple of the first, second, and third class, by the side of the image of the king.
In 1802 Akerblad succeeded in making out the general meaning of several lines of the demotic text, and in identifying the equivalents of the names Alexander, Alexandria, Ptolemy, etc. In 1819 Thomas Young published in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. IV, the results of his studies of the texts, 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 hieroglyphics, and he was the first to apply it to their decipherment. Warburton, De Guignes, Barthélemy and Zoëga all suspected the existence