A History of the World

The Rosetta Stone is one of the most famous objects in the British Museum but the actual contents of its inscription is less well-known. The inscription is a decree that affirms the royal cult of the 13-year-old Ptolemy V on the first anniversary of his coronation in 196 BC. The same inscription is written in three different scripts: Greek, hieroglyphs and demotic Egyptian. It was this Greek inscription that allowed modern scholars to begin to decipher hieroglyphs for the first time.

Why is the Rosetta Stone written in three different scripts?

The Rosetta Stone is part of the BBC’s A History of the World in 100 Objects, a partnership between the BBC and the British Museum that focuses on world history, involving collaborations between teams across the BBC, and schools, museums and audiences across the UK. The project focuses on the things we have made, from flint to mobile phone.

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