Who was Champollion and what he discovered?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jean-Francois Champollion was a French scholar who was involved in studying Egypt and Egyptian hieroglyphic writing.  He is most famous for having discovered how to translate this kind of writing.  He was able to translate it because of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone.

The Rosetta Stone was a stone which was inscribed with an identical message in three scripts.  Two were Egyptian scripts (one of them was hieroglyphics) and the other was in classic Greek.  Using this stone, Champollion determined that the hieroglyphics were a combination of phonetic signs (like our letters) and ideographic signs (like Chinese characters).

giorgiana1976 | Student

Jean Francois Champollion remained in history as the first researcher who managed to decipher the famous and enigmatic Egyptian hieroglyphs , after hard work.Thanks to his efforts of researchers and enthusiasts Egyptologist could have the first access to the original sources of culture and history of Egypt.Unfortunately Champollion could not enjoy too much of the glory of his discovery, loosing his life at only 41 years, after a stroke.But his reputation as founder of Egyptology, and interest  shown to all areas of this vast discipline, his pioneering work and especially his intuition which enabled him to find the key to hieroglyphics make him to remain today a very important cultural personality .

At only 18 years, in 1809,is becoming professor of history and politics at Grenoble, a post which he will occupy until 1816. He obtained his doctorate in literature in 1810. During this period begins to work on several studies about ancient Egypt. In 1818 he became professor of history and geography at the Royal College of Grenoble, where he remained until 1821. The new post gives him the chance to deal exclusively with his old passion, the language of the land of pharaohs of ancient Egypt and archeology. Even if he had Republican sympathies, which he didn't hesitate to confess,he has received the support of the Royal Court, being able to visit museums around the world, including the one from Leghorn, Rome, Naples or Florence.

After this long journey Champollion was appointed in 1826, director of the collection of Egyptian art from the Louvre Museum, which had its first exhibition in December 1827. In 1828 he made his first and only trip to Egypt, accompanied by Ippolito Rosellini,by then Champollion's favorite disciple. The two had known eachother in Italy, during the Champollion's trip, quickly discovering that they had been sharing a passion for Egypt.

The purpose of this trip to Egypt, held between 1828-1829, was the team to make a thorough search of history and geography of the region, having as sources the monuments and inscriptions left . That was the point where Egyptology was born .

Research of those two, gathered in the huge volume of notes made by Champollion and the drawings made by both, were the basis on which other researchers started , such as Karl Richard Lepisus or John Gardner Wilkinson.

Once he came back in France, Champollion became a member of the Academie des Inscriptions 1830, and in 1831 was established for him, at the College de France, a Department of Egyptian history and archeology.

As reviewing notes taken during the trip, preparing an extensive scientific work, Champollion has suffered a stroke on March 4th, 1832.

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