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INTRODUCTION . . .
The mode of reading the hieroglyphics (that is, the writings inscribed on all the remains of ancient Egypt) has been recovered. How this recovery was effected, is an oft-told tale ; but, nevertheless, it must be here repeated, for with the exception of one or two students, the subject is altogether neglected in England.
A piece of granite was found near Rosetta, on the western mouth of the Nile, in digging the foundation of a fort, by the French army, in 1798. On this stone was a long inscription in hieroglyphics, with a Greek translation, which explained that it was a decree appointing divine honors to Ptolemy Epiphanes, who began to reign over Egypt 204 B. C. This stone is now in the British Museum.
A small obelisc was brought to England by Mr. Banks, from the island of Philæ, which lies on the extreme southern borders of Egypt. This has a hieroglyphic inscription on the shaft, and at the base a Greek one, which tells us that it was dedi
cated to the gods of Philæ by Ptolemy Physcon, the second successor of Epiphanes, and by Cleopatra his wife. They began to reign 146 B. C.
The following group of characters (I below) is of frequent occurrence on both these monuments. This had been conjectured to be the transcription in hieroglyphics of the name of PTOLEMY, before the arrival of Mr. Bankes's obelisc in England. On this last monument (II.) was another group which (assuming the former conjecture to be correct) was in all probability the name CLEOPATRA. The complete proof of both resulted from the analysis of M. Champollion, who had long diligently studied the antiquities of Egypt. It was as follows: Ι ΙΙ
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 PTOL e M Eus
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
J K L E O PA TR A The first letter in Ptolemeus and the 5th in Cleopatra are both P. The first character in the ring supposed to be Ptolemy, and the fifth in that conjectured to be Cleopatra are both a square block, or rather package of linen. This character therefore was assumed to be p.
The third letter in Ptolemy and the fourth in Cleopatra, are both 0. The corresponding characters in the two rings are also both the same,-a knotted cord &, which was accordingly set down as o.
The fourth in Ptolemy and the second in Cleopatra, are both L. The corresponding characters are again the same in both rings. The lion was therefore put down for l.
The sixth and ninth letters in Cleopatra are both A. The sixth and ninth characters in the ring, assumed to be Cleopatra, are both a sparrowhawk, which we thenceforth write a.
The first letter in Cleopatra is not in Ptolemy, neither is the first character in the ring of Cleopatra to be found in that of Ptolemy. The triangular block was therefore added to the hieroglyphic alphabet; 4 C, or the Greek K kappa.
The third character in Cleopatra's ring is one blade of a Nile reed A ; the corresponding letter is a short ě. The last character but one in Ptolemy's ring is two such blades. This the discoverer rightly assumed from this analogy to be the long ē, which is the last letter but two in Ptolemy's name. From this approximation he was able to solve the difficulty which the comparison of the ring of Ptolemy with his name presents. There are nine letters in the name, but only seven characters in the ring. The intermediate vowels were often omitted in the ancient Egyptian writings, as in the Hebrew and other oriental languages. Long study of the Coptic,