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Champollion who demystified ancient Egypt

  The ancient Egyptian script is very complex, and the temple monks deliberately made it very obscure. Therefore, as ancient Egypt went away, its script was gradually unintelligible. For 15 centuries, the world has looked at hieroglyphs with astonishment. European scholars have long mistaken it for a mystical symbol used in religious ceremonies. It was not until the 19th century that it was successfully deciphered by the French scholar Champollion, thus making the splendid ancient Egyptian civilization re-displayed in front of the world. Champollion thus became the master of Egyptology.
  In 1790, the gifted Shang Boliang was born into a family of booksellers. When he was born, his parents and neighbors were amazed because his skin was yellow and his face resembled an Egyptian. From an early age, Champollion was fond of reading and thirsty for knowledge, especially knowledge related to Egypt. When he got a pack of books from a friend, Champollion exclaimed: “Basically anything that has to do with the unknown fascinates me…”.
  His older brother, Jean-Jacques, played a very important role in the growth of Champollion. He has been helping Champollion in his studies. In 1799, the older brother hired Dom Clamels, a religious teacher for Champollion, to teach him the classical languages ​​- Greek and Latin. From this, Champollion began to read the works of Plato and other ancients. In 1801, Champollion moved to Grenoble and began studying under his brother. In 1802, he entered school to study Hebrew. The following year, with the approval of his teacher, Champollion began to learn Arabic, Syriac, Aramaic and Coptic, of which Coptic was his favorite.
  With the foundation of language, Champollion began to study classics, studying the works of Herodotus, Strabo, Plutarch and others. These works all involve content related to Egypt. In 1807, Champollion and his brother moved to Paris. After that, he studied at the Collège de France and the School of Oriental Languages ​​in Paris. There he went on to study Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Ancient Syriac, Aramaic and Coptic.
  Champollion had a great passion for Egyptian culture, and everything related to Egypt fascinated him. In 1809, the catalogue of the spoils of Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt was published, and Champollion began to devote himself to the study of Egyptian culture. In the same year, he also served as an assistant professor of ancient history at the University of Grenoble before relocating to Grenoble. While in Paris and Grenoble, Champollion continued to study the Egyptian language, including Coptic grammar and dialect inflections.
  The important source that Champollion relied on to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs was the Rosetta Stone. In 1798, Napoleon led an expedition to Egypt. Also on the expedition were a group of scientists and engineers, including archaeologists, artists and zoologists. These scientists made detailed descriptions, classifications and studies of all buildings, statues, inscriptions and other cultural relics, flora and fauna, and works of art. In the summer of 1799, a man named Boussard or Bouchard, while working in the town of Rosetta, 30 miles from Alexandria, came across a slab of basalt slabs. The tablet is 3.9 feet long, 24.5 feet wide, and 11 inches thick, and is inscribed with three scripts: hieroglyphics (translation of Egyptian hieroglyphs), Greek, and civil script.
  The French transferred the Rosetta Stone to the National Institute established in Cairo in 1798. In 1802, a copy of the stele inscription was sent to Paris. However, before the study of the inscription officially began, this precious monument was taken by the British. The British defeated the French in 1801 and took a large number of artifacts from them. Among them, the most cherished is the Rosetta Stone. The British rushed the stele to London and carefully placed it in the British Museum. To this day, the stele is still stored there.
  Apparently, the British believed that by keeping the stele in their own hands, they could control the state of the study of hieroglyphics and the researchers who worked to decipher the inscriptions. However, their wishful thinking fell through. The first to decipher hieroglyphs was still the French. In England, the task of deciphering hieroglyphs fell to the scholar Thomas Young (1773-1829). Young is a physicist and doctor. He joined the Royal Society in 1802 (that is, three years after the discovery of the stele) and became a Special Member of the Royal Society in 1804. He has studied some Eastern languages, but is not a linguist. Yang’s research specimens are plentiful, with many other hieroglyphic copies and papyrus texts. Champollion, however, did not have the same conditions, and even his compatriot Silvestre de Sacy, his mentor, was committed to keeping him groping in the dark. De Sacy wrote to Young on July 20, 1815, advising him to keep Champollion secret about his present work. “If I were to give you any advice, I would advise you not to share your research with Champollion,” he wrote. Champollion also received an inscription from Philae, but that was 4 years after Yang got it.
  Yang’s research has indeed made great progress, but he has never been able to decipher the Rosetta Stone. Champollion, on the other hand, achieved excellence in this regard when others continued to fail. Before using the Rosetta Stone, he studied a lot of other sources and compared different alphabets together like a childhood game. He compared the civil script on the Rosetta Stone with the script on other papyrus, and although he could not understand exactly what they meant, he could try to discern the simplest features or signs from the text. In addition, Champollion compares civil, priestly, and biblical scripts together, and compares several versions of the same document—for example, in the biblical and priestly versions of The Egyptian Death Book”. In addition, he scrutinizes all other texts provided to him by friends and colleagues. Each new volume of Napoleon’s Expeditions to Egypt catalogue provides him with more research material.
  After years of unremitting efforts, Champollion finally explored the meaning of this mysterious word and found the key to open the door to ancient Egyptian culture. Overjoyed, he dropped his work, rushed out of the room, ran across the street to the Collège de France where his brother worked, and shouted, “I found it!”
  The results of Champollion’s years of research were first published in Lettre à M. Dacier, which caused a sensation throughout Europe. He concluded that hieroglyphs contain 864 kinds of symbols, some of which represent objects (celestial bodies, animals, plants, etc.), some represent geometric figures, some represent imagined animals (animals with heads and human beings) and so on. He realized that the pictures were drawn from the side to indicate the direction in which the text was written. If they face left, that means people read from left to right. Of course, these words can also be written vertically.
  Champollion also crafted a table to describe another important feature of hieroglyphics – an image of an object can be used as a symbol to represent a sound, but the object’s colloquial name must begin with the intended sound: e.g. , the eagle in ancient Egyptian is called Akhom or Ahome, which is used to represent A; the perfume plate is called Berbé, which is used to represent B; the knee is called Ke’li, which is used to represent K; the lion is called Laboi, which is used to represent L. Just such a speech is represented by several different images.
  In addition, such languages ​​are not only phonetic, but also symbolic and symbolic: Het, for example, means “heart”, from which spirit and wisdom are extended. To express “anxious”, you can write “little heart”; “patient” is “heavy or slow heart”; “pride” is “high heart”; “timid” is “fragile heart;” hesitant “Indecisive” means “having two hearts”; “stubborn” means “hard heart”; “remorse” means “eating someone’s heart”, etc.
  Another great achievement of Champollion was the revelation of ancient Egypt The relationship between the three scripts—hieroglyphic, priestly, and civil. Champollion pointed out that the oldest of the three is biblical script, which is basically used to carve public monuments. In response to the need for writing, the priest’s body appeared, which is a shorthand for the holy scripture. This font is used by priests and written on papyrus. The priest’s body has the function of symbolism, symbolism and voice. The
  last text to appear is Civilian script. It is almost entirely phonetic. Symbolic characters are used only to denote gods and sacred things. Champollion declared that “Three scripts have been used simultaneously throughout Egypt. He added: “People at all levels across the country use civilian bodies to communicate, to record public and private events involving family interests. ”
  However, Champollion’s work was not immediately recognized by academia. British schools united against him and slandered him, denying the French’s achievements. Yang also came forward to belittle his achievements. But in Germany, the Humboldt Brothers, Willem joined Darcier, Fourier and many other famous people to unite to defend Champollion’s theory. It was not until 1866 that another well-known hieroglyphic text, the Decree of Cannops, appeared and was successfully interpreted according to Champollion’s theory, which silenced those doubters. Champollion proved correct.
  In 1826, Champollion returned to Paris to serve as custodian of the Egyptian Museum. In 1828, with the support of the French and Tuscan governments, Champollion and Losellini visited Egypt together. Unfortunately, jealous of his talents, Champollion fell ill and returned to Paris in 1829. In 1931, Champollion died at the age of 41.
  Shang Boliang has been in the world for forty years, like a beautiful meteor flashing by, but he used his short life to reproduce the mysterious ancient Egyptian civilization and fulfilled the dreams of several generations. He seems to be a messenger sent by God, born only to decipher hieroglyphs.
  The decisive factors for Champollion’s major discoveries were enthusiasm and focus – 15 years of hard work. He learns the language easily and quickly, and more importantly, he can have fun with it. For him, the study of language is the greatest entertainment. For example, when he was learning Arabic, he wore Arabic-style clothing and called himself “al Seghir” (meaning “young man” in Arabic). Another form of “playing with languages” is to compare alphabets: Champollion compared ancient Syriac with Aramaic, Hebrew, and Arabic alphabets, and then compared them with Coptic, Compare the alphabets of languages ​​such as Greek. It’s a way he uses for pastime. It was this childhood game that later helped Champollion decipher the mysterious hieroglyphs. Although the reviews were mixed, Champollion didn’t care. Because he is focused on the pursuit of truth, not the approval of others.
  The genius linguist Shang Boliang used his extraordinary enthusiasm and perseverance to unveil the mysterious veil of ancient Egypt for the world. With the development of archaeology, the bright pearl of ancient Egyptian civilization continues to bring us surprises. But beyond the surprise, we can never forget the great contribution of Champollion, who was born for hieroglyphs.

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