Category: Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is one of the most famous artifacts in the history of archaeology and linguistics. Discovered in 1799 by a French soldier during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, this inscribed stone proved to be the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Below, World History Edu explores what the Rosetta stone and why it is extremely important.


The Rosetta Stone is a fragment of a larger stela (a stone slab) made of granodiorite. It measures approximately 112.3 cm in height, 75.7 cm in width, and 28.4 cm in thickness.


What makes the Rosetta Stone so unique is that the same text is inscribed on it in three different scripts:

    • Hieroglyphic: The script used for important or religious documents in ancient Egypt.
    • Demotic: A common script used for daily purposes in ancient Egypt.
    • Greek: The language of the rulers of Egypt at the time the stone was inscribed.


The inscriptions on the stone are a decree from King Ptolemy V, dating to 196 BC. The decree describes the repealing of various taxes and instructions to erect statues in temples.


Before the discovery of the Stone, hieroglyphs had not been understood for nearly 1,400 years. Scholars could read the Greek inscription and, by comparing it with the other scripts, began to understand the structure and vocabulary of hieroglyphs.

Decipherment of the Rosetta Stone

The primary individual credited with deciphering the hieroglyphs using the Rosetta Stone is Jean-François Champollion, a French scholar. By 1822, he had made significant progress in understanding the hieroglyphic script, paving the way for our modern understanding of ancient Egyptian literature, culture, history, and civilization.

Current Location

As of 2023, the Stone resides in the British Museum in London, where it attracts millions of visitors.