The Rosetta Stone has been in the British Museum for 200 years and is the single most visited object in the entire collection. A pharaoh's forgotten decree, recorded in 3 scripts, the stone is the key to the lost hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, a mystery which had intrigued men of science since the end of the Roman empire.
What does the Rosetta Stone tell us about the past? What treasures of Egyptian literature can now be read, thanks to its decipherment? What does it tell us about the history of writing and the story of our own alphabets? How do decipherments work and how can we know if they are right? Who owns the Rosetta Stone and what happens if we start to return pieces of the past to countries who claim them? These are some of the fascinating questions which are explored in this introduction to one of the true Wonders of the World.
John Ray is Sir Herbert Thompson Professor of Egyptology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Selwyn College. He has previously held posts in the British Museum and at the University of Birmingham, and has been a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Yale and Chicago. He is the author of Reflections of Osiris (Profile 2001) which David Starkey called'a triumph'and Tom Holland'the best introduction to ancient Egypt I've read'(Daily Telegraph).
'...successfully captures the West's fascination with Egypt. Always the master of his subject, he entertains rather than lectures, is sparing with minutiae but still finds space for telling detail.', Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times
'Highly readable ...Professor Ray takes us on an ancient journey from this sunset of the ancient Egyptian world.', BBC History Magazine