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Today In History: Decoding & Diplomacy

On July 15, 1799, the way the Western world understood Egypt was forever changed.

Before the Rosetta Stone was discovered by French soldiers stationed in Egypt, no one really knew how to make sense of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The stone features a list of King Ptolemy V’s accomplishments written in three different languages including Ancient Greek and Demotic, an Egyptian script used primarily for writing longer documents more quickly. By comparing the three sections of text, which were merely written using different scripts but featured the same content, linguists and Egyptologists were finally able to decode vast amounts of Egyptian history that otherwise would have been indecipherable.

Today, the Rosetta Stone’s legacy lives on in the form of a space probe that holds the key to explaining the Earth’s modern languages to whatever sentient life that might one day discover us. Need to know more about the Rosetta disk and what it has in common with Rembrandt and Richard Nixon? Check out Today In History to find out.

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