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Statement No. 4 proves beyond all doubt that when Champollion wrote the work in question he did not only not believe in the alphabetic character of any of the Egyptian signs, but also that he never suspected the possibility of such a thing. In the following year (1822) when he published his Lettre à M. Dacier, he gave in it an alphabet consisting of various characters discovered by himself, as well as those the value of which had been ascertained by Young, and showed that several of the signs which Young had believed to be syllabic were actually alphabetic! We are entitled to ask here, What was it that had caused Champollion to arrive at a conclusion diametrically opposed to that which he had asserted so confidently one year before? There is, in my opinion, only one answer possible to this question: Champollion altered his opinion because he had either read or had had read or explained to him the fact that Young had successfully identified the names of Ptolemy and Berenice in the hieroglyphic text on the Rosetta Stone and elsewhere. Champollion was swift to grasp the importance of this discovery and to employ the system inaugurated by Young to the decipherment of the hieroglyphic forms of Greek and Latin proper names other than those of Ptolemy and Berenice, and of titles like Autokrator.


It has been popularly supposed that it was Champollion who was the first to identify the name of Cleopatra on an obelisk at Philae, but it was not so, as we may see from Young's letter to M. Arago. The great astronomer asked Young why he did not publish " a simple statement of the dates of the several steps" which he had made in the recovery of the literature of the Egyptians. On July 4th, 1828, Young wrote to M. Arago as follows1:-"I told you the other day that I thought I had done quite as much as was necessary for asserting my claim, and that I had no reason to be over-anxious for establishing any further and that the public at large was perfectly willing to concede it me. I thought M. Champollion had been unjust to me, but I freely forgave him, without requiring him to acknowledge his injustice; and on the other hand I was inclined to believe that he had also forgiven me, without my having made any concession to him. Now of the nine letters, which I insist that I had discovered, M. Champollion himself allows me five, and I maintain that a single one would have been sufficient for all that I wished to prove; the method by which that one was obtained being allowed to be correct, and to be capable of further application. The true foundation of the analysis of the Egyptian system, I insist, is the great fact of the original identity of the enchorial with the sacred character, which I discovered and printed in 1816,2 and which M. Champollion probably rediscovered, and certainly republished in 1821 (1822 ?); besides the reading of the name of Ptolemy, which I had completely ascertained

1 See Leitch, Works of Dr. Young, Vol. III, p. 464.

2 The italics are mine.

and published in 1814, and the name of Cleopatra, which Mr. Bankes had afterwards discovered by means of the information that I had sent him out to Egypt, and he asserts that he communicated indirectly to M. Champollion. And whatever deficiencies there might have been in my original alphabet, supposing it to have contained but one letter correctly determined, they could and must have been gradually supplied by a continuous application of the same method to other monuments which have been progressively discovered and made public since the date of my first paper."

Young's assertion that the name of Cleopatra was identified by Mr. Bankes is supported by Henry Salt (see Essay on Dr. Young's and M. Champollion's Phonetic System of Hieroglyphics, London, 1826, p. 7), who declared that the discovery was made as far back as 1818! Mr. Bankes noticed that, as the Greek inscription upon the propylaeum at Diospolis Parva "furnishes the only example extant in all Egypt of the name of a queen Cleopatra preceding (instead of following) that of a king Ptolemy, so does the sculpture on the same building furnish the only example, where the female figure, offering, takes a precedence over that of the man; these therefore, it seemed more than probable, must be intended for Cleopatra and Ptolemy." Mr. Salt goes on to say that Mr. Bankes proceeded to confront the supposed name of Ptolemy, as furnished to him from the Rosetta Stone by Dr. Young, with the hieroglyphic designation over the male figure, and found an exact agreement. The next step was to examine whether the same two names could be found on the shaft of the obelisk which Mr. Bankes was removing from Philae, that being a known memorial of a Ptolemy and his two Cleopatras; and upon both being detected, not upon that only, but upon a little temple at Philae, where Mr. Bankes had discovered a dedicatory inscription in Greek of the same sovereign, the matter was brought to complete proof, and the result was communicated by Mr. Bankes both to Mr. Salt and Dr. Young, and noted by him also in pencil in the margin of many copies which he afterwards distributed. It was so noted, amongst others, in the margin of that sent to Paris to be presented to the French Institute by Monsieur Denon. To the plate of that obelisk M. Champollion refers for the discovery and proofs of this important name; but it will be obvious that, without other data, a mere collation of the Greek on the pedestal with the hieroglyphs on the shaft could not, in this instance, have led to such a result. Mr. Salt adds, " These facts are stated, not so much with a view of detracting from any credit assumed, on whatever grounds, by M. Champollion, as of proving that the chain of evidence which establishes this important name is much more full and complete than M. Champollion has been able to make it appear to his readers.”

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.

Barthélemy1 and Zoega2 had come to the conclusion long before the labours of Åkerblad, Young, and Champollion, that the cartouches contained proper names. Åkerblad drew up an alphabet of the demotic characters, in which fourteen signs had correct values attributed to them. Young published a demotic alphabet in which the greater number of Åkerblad'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 Åkerblad, and a hieroglyphic alphabet, of which six characters had had correct values assigned to them by Young and the values of three others had been correctly stated so far as the consonants were concerned. By using the method of decipherment inaugurated by Young, Champollion was able to deduce the values of the remaining letters of the Egyptian alphabet. These facts are proved by the evidence collected in the preceding pages. No one with any knowledge of the subject would contend for one moment that the discoveries that Champollion made after he had once got his alphabet were not entirely his own, or that Young had any share in them, but that Young supplied the method and discovered the true values of several alphabetic characters-which Champollion himself adopted!-is incontrovertible. The credit that was Young's due has been strangely denied to him by a number of modern writers on Egyptology, but this is probably due to the fact that they have not made themselves acquainted with the literature dealing with the early history of Egyptian decipherment. Some who know the facts generally have confused Young's correct identification of several alphabetic signs with the incorrect translations that he made, and have condemned both, whilst others have totally ignored or misrepresented both. Most of the contemporaries of Young and Champollion, I mean men like Birch and Hincks and Brugsch, who did more than anyone else to establish Egyptology on a sound base and as a working system, thought highly of Young's labours, as the following extracts will show. Thus in Wilkinson's The Egyptians, pp. 195, 196, Birch says of his alphabet :

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

1 Caylus, Recueil d'Antiquités Égyptiennes, Étrusques, 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 insidentia, quae emphatica ratione includunt certa notarum syntagmata, sive ad propria personarum nomina exprimenda, sive ad sacratiores formulas designandas.

the name of Ptolemy up in his own way, from the demotic into hieratic, into hieroglyphs.

But as regards Young's translations Birch honestly says:

His 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.

And Hincks says:

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In the first work of Champollion, his essay De l'Écriture hiératique des Anciens Egyptiens, published in 1821, he recognized the existence of only the first of these three ways of representing words, supposing that all the Egyptian characters represented ideas. When he discovered the erroneousness of this opinion, he used all possible efforts to suppress the work in which he had stated it. That work, however, contained a valuable discovery In the year after this publication, Champollion published his Lettre à M. Dacier, in which he announced the phonetic powers of certain hieroglyphics and applied them to the reading of Greek and Roman proper names. Had he been candid enough to admit that he was indebted to Dr. Young for the commencement of his discovery, and only to claim the merit of extending and improving the alphabet, he would probably have had his claims to the preceding and subsequent discoveries, which were certainly his own, more readily admitted by Englishmen than they have been. In 1819 Dr. Young had published his article "Egypt" in the Supplement to the Encyclopædia Britannica; and it cannot be doubted that the analysis of the names "Ptolemaeus" and "Berenice," which it contained, reached Champollion in the interval between his publication in 1821 and 1822, and led him to alter his views. . . . . . The Grammaire Égyptienne ought to have been given to the public as his sole bequest in the department of Egyptian philology. It was published from a manuscript written in 1831, immediately before his last illness. Shortly before his decease, having carefully collected the sheets, he delivered them to his brother, with the remark, "Be careful of this; I trust that it will be my visiting card to posterity." Even the warmest admirers of Champollion must admit that he left his system in a very imperfect state. Few, probably, will deny that he held many errors to the close of his life, both in what respects the reading of the characters, and in what respects the interpretation of the

texts. Hincks, "On the Number, Names, and Powers of the
Letters of the Hieroglyphic Alphabet," in Trans. Royal Irish
Acad., Vol. XXI, Section, POLITE LITERATURE, pp. 133, 134,
Dublin, 1848.

In 1851 Brugsch, adopting the views which Lepsius1 expressed in 1837, wrote :

Saeculi enim hujus et initium usque quum cognitio hieroglyphorum, quibus veteres Aegyptii in sacra dialecto scribenda utebantur, densissimis tenebris scateret, ita quidem ut fere omnia, quae antea vel eruditissimi homines summo ingenii acumine explorasse sibi visi sunt, si hodie forte legimus risum vix tenere possimus : hoc lapide detecto postquam omnium animi ad spem enucleandi tandem istud monstruosum et perplexum per tot saecula quasi involucris involutorum genus signorum arrecti sunt, unus vir Champollio Francogallus exstitit, qui mira sagacitate incredibilique studio adjutus totam hieroglyphorum rationem nulla fere parte relicta luce clarius explanavit et exposuit.—Brugsch, Inscriptio Rosettana, Berlin, 1851, pp. 1, 2.

But in 1891, when he was the greatest Egyptologist in Europe, he wrote:

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Fast gleichzeitig mit dem alten Jomard . hatte Dr. Young das Glück aus den hieroglyphischen Texten die Bezeichnungen für die Einer, Zehner, Hunderte, und Tausende richtig herauszuerkennen und überdies den hieroglyphischen Königsnamen―

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ihre entsprechende griechische Form Ptolemaios und Berenike gegenüberzustellen, eine Entdeckung, die ihm ALLEIN

1 Ce fut en 1819, que le Dr. Young déclara le premier que les cartouches, ou encadrements elliptiques, dans le texte hiéroglyphique de l'inscription de Rosette, correspondaient aux noms propres grecs et particulièrement à celui de Ptolémée du texte grec, et aux groupes, du même nom, dans le texte intermédiaire en écriture égyptienne démotique ou vulgaire, groupes qui avaient été déjà reconnus et décomposés par MM. Silvestre de Sacy et Akerblad. Il allait encore plus loin en supposant que chaque signe du cartouche représentait un son du nom de Ptolémée et en cherchant à les définir réellement un à un par une analyse très ingénieuse. . . . Plusieurs signes avaient été faussement interprétés et la preuve la plus évidente en était qu'il ne réussissait pas à lire d'autres noms que ceux de Ptolémée et de Bérénice. Il faut donc avouer que, malgré cette découverte, les opinions du Dr. Young, sur la nature du système hieroglyphique, étaient encore essentiellement fausses et que cette découverte elle-même serait probablement restée infructueuse et à peine signalée comme découverte dans la science, si on avait suivi le chemin que son auteur lui-même avait proposé.-Lepsius, Lettre à M. le Professeur F. Rosellini sur l'Alphabet Hieroglyphique, Rome, 1837, p. 11.

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