Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

ian granodiorite
Granodiorite is an intrusive igneous rock similar to granite, but containing more plagioclase than orthoclase-type feldspar. Officially, it is defined as a phaneritic igneous rock with greater than 20% quartz by volume where at least 65% of the feldspar is plagioclase. It usually contains abundant...

A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

Epigraphy Epigraphy Epigraphy (from the , literally "on-writing", is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; that is, the science of identifying the graphemes and of classifying their use as to cultural context and date, elucidating their meaning and assessing what conclusions can be...

 with a decree
A decree is a rule of law issued by a head of state , according to certain procedures . It has the force of law...

 issued at Memphis
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

 in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V
Ptolemy V Epiphanes
Ptolemy V Epiphanes , son of Ptolemy IV Philopator and Arsinoe III of Egypt, was the fifth ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty. He became ruler at the age of five, and under a series of regents the kingdom was paralyzed.-Regency infighting:Ptolemy Epiphanes was only a small boy when his father, Ptolemy...

. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian
Egyptian language
Egyptian is the oldest known indigenous language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known. Egyptian was spoken until the late 17th century AD in the...

Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood...

, the middle portion Demotic
Demotic (Egyptian)
Demotic refers to either the ancient Egyptian script derived from northern forms of hieratic used in the Delta, or the stage of the Egyptian language following Late Egyptian and preceding Coptic. The term was first used by the Greek historian Herodotus to distinguish it from hieratic and...

 script, and the lowest Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

. Because it presents essentially the same text in all three scripts (with some minor differences between them), it provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood...


Originally displayed within a temple
Egyptian temple
Egyptian temples were built for the official worship of the gods and commemoration of pharaohs in Ancient Egypt and in regions under Egyptian control. These temples were seen as houses for the gods or kings to whom they were dedicated...

, the stele was probably moved during the early Christian
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 or medieval period
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 and eventually used as building material in the construction of Fort Julien
Fort Julien
Fort Julien was a fort in Egypt, originally built by the Ottoman Empire and occupied by the French during Napoleon Bonaparte's campaign in Egypt and Syria between 1798-1801. It stood on the left bank of the Nile a couple of miles north-east of Rashid on the north coast of Egypt...

 near the town of Rashid
Rosetta is a port city on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. It is located east of Alexandria, in Beheira governorate. It was founded around AD 800....

 (Rosetta) in the Nile Delta
Nile Delta
The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...