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THE ROSETTA STONEAND THE STELE OF CANOPUS.
Finding of the
The following remarks upon the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphics may be fitly introduced by a description of the remarkable objects of antiquity whose names stand at the head of this chapter.
The Rosetta Stone is a slab of black basalt, which is Rosetta now preserved in the British Museum (Egyptian Gallery, Stone.
No. 24). It was found by a French artillery officer called Boussard, among the ruins of Fort Saint Julien, near the Rosetta mouth of the Nile, in 1799, but subsequently came into the possession of the British Government at the capitulation of Alexandria. It is inscribed with fragments of 14 lines of hieroglyphics, 32 lines of demotic, and 54 lines of Greek. A portion of the stone has been broken off from the top, and the right-hand bottom corner has also suffered injury. It now measures 3ft. gin. x 2ft.4} in. x uin. We may arrive at an idea of the original size of the Rosetta Stone by comparing the number of lines upon it with the number of those
upon the Stele of Canopus, which is inscribed in hieroglyphic, Canopus
demotic and Greek, measures 7 ft. 2in. x 2ft. 7in. x 1 ft. 2in.,
and is inscribed with 36 lines of hieroglyphics, 73 lines of Stone compared. demotic, and 74 lines of Greek. The demotic inscription is
on the edge of the stele. This stele was set up at Canopus in the ninth year of the reign of Ptolemy III., Euergetes I. (B.C. 247—222), to record the decree made at Canopus by the priesthood, assembled from all parts of Egypt, in honour of the king. It records the great benefits which he had conferred upon Egypt, and states what festivals are to be celebrated in his honour, and in that of Berenice, etc., and, like the Rosetta' Stone, concludes with a resolution ordering that a copy of this inscription in hieroglyphics, Greek and demotic, shall be placed in every large temple in Egypt. Now the Rosetta Stone is inscribed with 32 lines of demotic, and the Stele of Canopus with 73; but as the lines on the Rosetta Stone are rather more than double the length of those on the Stele of Canopus, it is pretty certain that each
1 A cast of the Rosetta Stone is exhibited in the Fitzwilliam Museum.
To face p. 108.
The ROSETTA STONE, inscribed with a decree of the priests of Memphis, conferring divine honours on
Ptolemy V., Epiphanes, King of Egypt, B.C. 195.