Happy Birthday Rosetta Stone!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ancient coin hunter, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Roma Invicta

    The Rosetta Stone is a granodiorite stele, rediscovered in the western world in 1799, inscribed with three versions of a decree issued at Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty on behalf of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes. The top and middle texts are in Ancient Egyptian using hieroglyphic script and demotic scripts, respectively, while the bottom is in Ancient Greek. As the decree has only minor differences between the three versions, the Rosetta Stone proved to be the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs by Jean Francois Champollion, thereby opening a window into ancient Egyptian history.


    The key to deciphering the hieroglyphs was the recognition that the symbols within the cartouche were in fact the king's name. Hence, Ptolemaios in Greek becomes Ptolemaios in hieroglyphs allowing the discovery of a phonetic match.

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  3. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I lived in London from 2002-2004 and would often frequent the British Museum where the Rosetta Stone is housed. I made a point to stop by every time and see it. It never failed to amaze me how a tiny (in comparison to all the artifacts) slab of stone could unlock so many secrets. It is one of the reasons I became really interested in linguistics.
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  4. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    That is a nice coin @ancient coin hunter . Is it yours?

    The Rosetta Stone was one of the greatest discoveries ever. I don't know how we'd know so much about the ancient Egyptians without this key discovery. It still took a lot of hard work to decipher hieroglyphics, but the Rosetta Stone definitely made that possible.

    I don't have a relevant coin of Ptolemy V, but I do have Ptolemy IX.....close enough.

    ptolemy_ix (1).jpg
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  5. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Roma Invicta

    Not mine though I wish it was!!!
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Roma Invicta

    That would be really cool. Apparently it is the most visited object in the British Museum.
  7. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I will see if I can dig out my pictures when I get home from work this afternoon.
  8. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Roma Invicta

    The cartouche reads Ptolemaios may he be given life forever and ever

    Still remember those hieroglyphs from my college days. So my brain isn't yet completely shot!!!
  9. lrbguy

    lrbguy Supporter! Supporter

    Interesting timing. Here is a composite image of the stone I put together from online images to show the stone and the three script types, and a coin effigy of Ptolemy V, and which I first showed to a Bible Class just yesterday:

    Why the "Happy Birthday?"

    You also said,
    How did they determine that the Greek preserved the same form of the name as the Egyptian? Greek renderings of Semitic names tend to vary the pronunciation of the original more often than preserve it. Why not Egyptian?
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  10. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Roma Invicta

    Technically Egyptian hieroglyphs have no vowels so it has to be provided by the speaker hence Egyptologists "guess" on the pronunciation. Coptic has proven very valuable in figuring this out over time.
  11. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Pop quiz: How many languages are written on the Rosetta Stone and what are they?
    Answer below.
    I don't have Ptolemy V either... But here's iv... Or possibly Cleo vii
    Ptolemy IV Philopator
    222-205/4 BCE
    Æ (11.5mm, 1.39 g, 12h). Uncertain mint on Cyprus. Diademed head of female (Aphrodite/Arsinoe III or Cleopatra VII?) right / Filleted cornucopia. Svoronos 1161; SNG Copenhagen 649. VF

    Answer: 3. Egyptian, Greek and... English! Though there are 3 scripts, as stated aptly in the OP, the first 2 are different types of Egyptian (kind of like us writing normal and then cursive. Except their cursive looks A LOT cooler then ours).
    The English being at the very bottom where the overzealous Brits, who lifted this off Napoleon's men btw, wrote "Property of England".
  12. lrbguy

    lrbguy Supporter! Supporter

    Yeah. Same problem with Semitic texts. For that we had comparators in productive languages like Arabic and Ge-ez, and parallels to Hebrew and the Punic Inscriptions. But for the Egyptian I would have expected some help from the Demotic. Was that superceded by Coptic?
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  13. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Roma Invicta

    Coptic is the last phase of the native language. Knowledge of hieroglyphs became lost once the temples were closed in the late 4th century. The last known hieroglyphic was inscribed in 394 A.D. under the reign of Theodosius. While some Arab scholars attempted to crack the code in the Middle Ages none were successful.

    The problem was that when the temples were closed that ended the training of youth studying to be priests by learning hieroglyphic script. Since the priests were essentially the keepers of knowledge (it was legendary that hieroglyphs were given to the people by Thoth, god of scribes) it died out.
  14. lrbguy

    lrbguy Supporter! Supporter

    My confusion came from not realizing that Hieroglyphic and Demotic are both script types for the same underlying dialect of Egyptian language, hieratic. One was monumental the other inscriptional for court records, legal docs (such as marriage contracts) and the like. Since the Egyptian of Late Kingdom courts was of a different dialect from Middle Egyptian courts I cannot assume that the hieroglyphic on the Rosetta Stone is in the same dialect as the Demotic. Is that part of the problem? If so, I'm not sure I see why Coptic helps. Does it set down the essential form of what we may call "Egyptian?"
  15. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Roma Invicta

    From Wikipedia:

    The Coptic alphabet was the first Egyptian writing system to indicate vowels, making Coptic documents invaluable for the interpretation of earlier Egyptian texts. Some Egyptian syllables had sonorants but no vowels; in Sahidic, these were written in Coptic with a line above the entire syllable. Various scribal schools made limited use of diacritics: some used an apostrophe as a word divider and to mark clitics, a function of determinatives in logographic Egyptian; others used diereses over ⲓ and ⲩ to show that these started a new syllable, others a circumflex over any vowel for the same purpose.

    The Coptic alphabet's glyphs are largely based on the Greek alphabet, another help in interpreting older Egyptian texts, with 24 letters of Greek origin; 6 or 7 more were retained from Demotic, depending on the dialect (6 in Sahidic, another each in Bohairic and Akhmimic). In addition to the alphabetic letters, the letter ϯ stood for the syllable /te/ or /de/.

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  16. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Tetradrachm of Ptolemy V Obv. His bust right Rv. Eagle stg l. Military mint in Phoenicia Sv 13.96 grms 25 mm Sv1258-2ptV.JPG
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  17. lrbguy

    lrbguy Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for taking the time. That was interesting.
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  18. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    But... why the birthday?
  19. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Roma Invicta

    Celebrating the 220 anniversary of its discovery by french troops.
  20. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    Ah, I see. It was on July 15.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
  21. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Roma Invicta

    Right, so I am a week off - well, close enough for a belated birthday.
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