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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.1
Briefly, the way in which Champollion recovered the 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,8 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 of the dedication of a similar monument, it follows of necessity that the cartouche must contain the name of a 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 Pricis du Systlme HUroglyphique, p. 18, he says that he had arrived at results similar to those obtained by Dr. Young, without having any knowledge of his opinion.
1 Observations sur VObilisque Egyptien de file dt Philec, in Revue encyclopidique, 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 :—
Now in No. 2 cartouche, sign No. I, which must represent Recovery K, is not found in cartouche No. 1. Sign No. 2, a lion lying "fthe.
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. 1 cartouche, and considering their position their value must be AI of aio?. Sign No. 4 is identical with No. 3 in No. I cartouche, and must have the value O in each name. Sign No. S is identical with sign No. 1 of No. 1 cartouche, which being the first letter of the name of Ptolemy must be P. Sign No. 6 is not found in No. 1 cartouche, but it must be A, because it is the same sign as sign No. 9, which ends the name KAEOI1ATPA; we know that signs 10 and 11 always accompany feminine proper names, because we see them
Nephthys. Sign No. 7, an open stretched out hand, must be T. It does not occur in No. 1 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. 1 cartouche,
and ought not to be there. In No. 1 cartouche sign No. 7
must be S, because it ends the name which in Greek ends
with S. Thus from these two cartouches we may collect
twelve characters of the Egyptian alphabet, viz., A, AI, E, K,
K, L, M, O, P, R, S, T. Now let us take another cartouche
from the Description de PEgypte, t. III. pi. 38, No. 13, and try
The name to make it out; it reads :—
Now signs Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8, we know from cartouches Nos. 1 and 2, and we may write down their values
The only Greek name which contains these letters in this order is Alexander, therefore let us assign to the signs ~wvs and —«—, the value of K, N and S respectively. We find on examination that the whole group corresponds, letter for letter, with the group which stands in the demotic text of a papyrus in the place of the Greek name AAEXANAPOZ. We have, then, gained three new phonetic signs K, N, and S, and have determined the value of fifteen in all.
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
Berenice. wrjte tnem down thus :—
. RNAI . .
The only female name which contains these letters in this order is that of Berenice, and to ^ and S we may therefore assign the values B and K respectively. Thus we have gained two more signs.
If we take two other cartouches, viz.:—
we find that we are able to read the first at once KAISRS, which is clearly Kai<rapo<; or Caesar; in the second the only sign we do not know is (®. Writing down the values we know we have A.TAKRTR, which is clearly AvToxpaTop; thus the value of the second character must be U. In this manner Champollion worked through the names of all the Ptolemies and the Roman Emperors, and eventually succeeded in making out the value of one hundred and eleven signs. At the foot of Plate I., in his Lettre d Monsieur Dacier, he writes his own name in hieroglyphics thus :—
Sha- M - ru - Ll - I - O - N.
The following are the letters of the Egyptian alphabet with their values as now accepted by Egyptologists:—
Opinions Of Egyptologists On The Labours Of Young And Champollion.
In favour of Young. The first idea of certain hieroglyphics being intended to represent sounds was suggested by Dr. Young, who, from the names of Ptolemy and Berenice, had pointed out nine, which have since proved to be correct; the former taken from the Rosetta inscription, and the latter deduced with singular ingenuity from the enchorial of the same monument [M. Champollion fils seems to be unwilling to allow this: but the fact is evident; and surely he has accomplished too much to stand in need of assuming to himself the merits of another. Note 1, p. 1.] Working upon this basis, M. Champollion, with happy success, made out four or five others, as also about thirty synonymes; and by the ingenious application of these, the merit of which is all his own, he has been able to turn to effect the discovery, and to decipher therewith a great number of the names of the Ptolemies and of the
Roman emperors —Salt,
H., Essay on Dr. Young's and M. Champollion's Phonetic System of Hieroglyphics; London, 1825.
Amidst this mass of error and contradiction, the application of the phonetic principle by Young, in 1818, had all the merit of an original
discovery and it was only
by a comparison of the three kinds of writing that he traced the name of Ptolemy up in his own way,
In favour of Champollion. His [Young's] translations, however, are below criticism, being as unfounded as those of Kircher. How far even, in the decipherment, he proceeded correctly, may be doubted. . . . But even here [in interpretation] there is much too incorrect in principle to be of real use; much of it is beneath criticism. —Birch, Hieroglyphs, p. 196.
It is even to this day a common habit of Englishmen to couple the name of their countryman, Dr. Thomas Young, with that of Champollion, as sharing with him the glory of this discovery. No person who knows anything of Egyptian philology can countenance so gross
an error But it is not true
that he discovered the key to the decipherment of hieroglyphics, or even that his labours assisted Champollion in the discovery. When the key was once discovered and recognized as the true one, it was found that one or two of Young's results were correct. But there was nothing in his method or theory by which he or anyone else could distinguish between his right and his wrong results, or which could lead him or anyone else a single step in
advance If anyone
has a right to be named in conjunction with Champollion, it is not Young, but Akerblad, to whom he does full justice (as he does indeed to Young himself) at the very beginning of his letter to M. Dacier. —Renouf, Hibbert Lecturesj London, 1880, pp. 12-16.