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Cham. pollion's system.
In 1822 Champollion published his famous Lettre à M. Dacier relative à l'alphabet des Hiéroglyphes Phonétiques, in which he stated his discovery of the Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet in the following words : “ Vous avez sans doute remarqué, Monsieur, dans mon Mémoire sur l'écriture démotique Egyptienne, que ces noms étrangers étaient exprimés phonetiquement au moyen de signes plutôt syllabiques qu'alphabétiques. La valeur de chaque caractère est reconnue et invariablement fixée par la comparaison de ces divers noms; et de tous ces rapprochements est résulté l'alphabet, ou plutôt le syllabaire démotique figuré sur ma planche I., colonne deuxième. L'emploi de ces caractères phonétiques une fois constaté dans l'écriture démotique, je devais naturellement en conclure que puisque les signes de cette écriture populaire étaient, ainsi que je l'ai exposé, empruntés de l'écriture hiératique ou sacerdotale, et puisque encore les signes de cette écriture hiératique ne sont, comme on l'a reconnu par mes divers mémoires, qu'une représentation abrégée, une véritable tachygraphie des hiérographes, cette troisième espèce d'écriture, l'hiéroglyphique pure, devait avoir aussi un certain nombre de ses signes doués de la faculté d'exprimer les sons; en un mot, qu'il existait également une série d'hiéroglyphes phonétiques. Pour s'assurer de la vérité de cet aperçu, pour reconnaître l'existence et discerner même la valeur de quelques-uns des signes de cette espèce, il aurait suffi d'avoir sous les yeux, écrits en hiéroglyphes purs, deux noms de rois grecs préalablement connus, et contenant plusieurs lettres employées à la fois dans l'un et dans l'autre, tels que Ptolémée et Cléopâtre, Alexandre et Bérénice, etc.” (p.5). Throughout this work there
appears to be no mention whatever of Young's identification of any letters of the hieroglyphic alphabet, although on p. 2 Champollion says : “A l'égard de l'écriture démotique en particulier, il a suffi de la précieuse inscription de Rosette pour en reconnaître l'ensemble ; la critique est redevable d'abord Chamaux lumières de votre illustre confrère, M. Silvestre de Sacy, admits
pollion et successivement à celles de feu Akerblad et de M. le docteur value of
Akerblad's Young, des premières notions exactes qu'on a tirées de ce and monument, et c'est de cette même inscription que j'ai déduit Young's la série des signes démotiques qui, prenant une valeur syllabico-alphabétique, exprimaient dans les textes idéographiques les noms propres des personnages étrangers à l’Egypte.” That Champollion should not have known of Young's article EGYPT is a thing not to be understood, especially as advance copies were sent to Paris and elsewhere as early as 1818.
From the facts given above we are enabled to draw up the following statement as to the amount of work done in the decipherment of the Egyptian language by the early workers in this field.
Barthélemy' and Zoëga ? had come to the conclusion Statement long before the labours of Akerblad, Young, and Cham- of labours
of results pollion, that the cartouches contained proper names.
Aker- of Zoëga, blad drew up an alphabet of the demotic character, in which Young and
Akerblad, fourteen signs appear to have had correct values attributed Cham
pollion. to them. Young published a demotic alphabet in which the greater number of Akerblad's results were absorbed ; he fixed the correct values to six hieroglyphic characters, and to three others partly correct values; he identified the names of Ptolemy and Alexander, the numerals and several gods' names. Champollion published a demotic alphabet, the greater part of which he owed, without question, to Akerblad, and a hieroglyphic alphabet of which six characters had had correct values assigned to them by Young, and the
1 Caylus, Recueil d'Antiquités Egyptiennes, Etrusques, etc., Tom. V.
p. 79. ? In De Origine et Usu Obeliscorum, p. 465. Conspiciuntur autem passim in Aegyptiis monumentis schemata quaedam ovata sive elliptica planae basi insi. dentia, quae emphatica ratione includunt certa notarum syntagmata, sive ad propria personarum nomina exprimenda, sive ad sacratiores formulas designandas,
values of three others had been correctly stated as far as the consonants were concerned. There is no doubt whatever that Champollion's plan of work was eminently scientific, and his great knowledge of Coptic enabled him to complete the admirable work of decipherment, which his natural talent had induced him to undertake. The value of his contributions to the science of Egyptology it would be difficult to overestimate, and the amount of work which he did in his comparatively short life is little less than marvellous. It is, however, to be regretted that Champollion did not state more clearly what Young had done, for a full acknowledgment of this would have in no way injured or lessened his
own immortal fame. Cham Briefly, the way in which Champollion recovered the pollion's alphabet. greater part of the Egyptian alphabet is as follows. It will
be remembered that, on account of breakages, the only name found on the Rosetta Stone is that of Ptolemy. Shortly before Champollion published his letter to M. Dacier, he had published an account of an obelisk,” recently brought to London, which was inscribed with the name of a Ptolemy, written with the same characters as that on the Rosetta Stone, and also contained within a cartouche. It was followed by a second cartouche, which should contain the name of a queen. The obelisk was said to have been fixed in a socket, bearing a Greek inscription containing a petition of the priests of Isis at Philae, addressed to Ptolemy, to Cleopatra his sister, and to Cleopatra his wife. Now, he argued, if this obelisk and the hieroglyphic inscription which it bears are really
the result of the petition of the priests, who in the Greek speak The names of the dedication of a similar monument, it follows of necessity Ptolemy
that the cartouche must contain the name of a Cleopatra. and Cleopatra. The names of Ptolemy and Cleopatra having, in the Greek,
some letters which are similar, may be used for comparing
1 We have seen above that Champollion did know of Young's work, yet in his Précis du Système Hiéroglyphique, p. 18, he says that he had arrived at results similar to those obtained by Dr. Young, without having any knowledge of his opinion.
: Observations sur l'Obélisque Egyptien de l'ile de Phila, in Revue encyclo. pédique, Mars, 1822.
the hieroglyphics which are used in each; and if the characters which are similar in these two names express the same sound in each cartouche, their purely phonetic character is at once made clear. A previous comparison of these two names written in the demotic character shows that when they are written phonetically several characters, exactly alike, are used in each. The analogy of the demotic, hieratic, and hieroglyphic methods of writing in a general way, leads us to expect the same coincidence and the same conformity in these same names, written hieroglyphically, The names Ptolemaios and Cleopatra written in hieroglyphics are as follows:
NO. 1, PTOLEMY.
Now in No. 2 cartouche, sign No. 1, which must represent Recovery
of the K, is not found in cartouche No. I. Sign No. 2, a lion lying
Egyptian down, is identical with sign No. 4 in cartouche No. I. This alphabet. clearly is L. Sign No. 3, a pen, represents the short vowel E; two of them are to be seen in character No. 6 in No. I cartouche, and considering their position their value'must be Al of acos. Sign No. 4 is identical with No. 3 in No. 1 cartouche, and must have the value O in each name. Sign No. 5 is identical with sign No. I of No. I cartouche, which being the first letter of the name of Ptolemy must be P. Sign No. 6 is not found in No. I cartouche, but it must be A, because it is the same sign as sign No. 9, which ends the name KAEONATPA ; we know that signs 10 and 11 always accompany feminine proper names, because we see them following the names of goddesses like do Isis, and le Nephthys. Sign No. 7, an open stretched out hand, must be T. It does not occur in No. I cartouche, but we find from other cartouches that o takes the place of , and the reverse. Sign No. 8 must be R; it is not in No, i cartouche, B. M.
and ought not to be there. In No. I cartouche sign No. 7
from the Description de l'Egypte, t. III. pl. 38, No. 13, and try
Now signs Nos. I, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8, we know from cartouches Nos. I and 2, and we may write down their values
í ( ΑΛ..ΣΕ..ΤΡ.
The only Greek name which contains these letters in
a mm, and, the value of K, N and S respectively.
Again, let us take the cartouche of another lady :
The name Now signs Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 we know, and we may
RNAI . .
The only female name which contains these letters in this order is that of Berenice, and to be and we may therefore assign the values Band K respectively. Thus we have gained two more signs.