Egypt marks 200 years since hieroglyphs deciphered

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. bicentenary / ˌbaɪ sɛnˈtɛn ə ri / (n.) – the 200th anniversary of something

    The oldest local bank in the country celebrated its bicentenary.

  2. decipher / dɪˈsaɪ fər / (v.) – to discover the meaning of something that’s difficult to read or understand

    We were able to decipher a secret message from the code.

  3. engrave / ɪnˈgreɪv / (v.) – to have a word, picture, or message cut or carved onto a surface

    We had the date of our wedding engraved on our wedding rings.

  4. instrumental / ˌɪn strəˈmɛn tl / (adj.) – having an important role in causing something to happen

    Nico’s investment in the business was instrumental to the company’s growth.

  5. script / skrɪpt / (n.) – a system of writing that has a unique set of letters, numbers, symbols, etc.

    The love letter was written in old Roman script.


Read the text below.

A three-day exhibition kicked off September 26 in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria to celebrate the bicentenary of the deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, which paved the way to unlock the meaning of the writings engraved on the walls of ancient temples and papyri.

The exhibition features a replica of the Rosetta Stone, which proved instrumental in deciphering the hieroglyphs.

The original Rosetta Stone, discovered by French soldiers in Egypt in 1799, is at the British Museum, where it is one of the highlights on display.

The exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of the deciphering of the ancient writing system was hosted at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina library.

“Deciphering the ancient Egyptian language (script) in 1822 was a very important event,” said Ahmed Mansour, the director of the library’s writing and scripts center.

For historians and Egyptologists, the ability to understand the ancient writing system was crucial to learning more about the ancient Egyptians.

“We understood the ancient Egyptian civilization better” because of the discovery that was made by French scientist Jean-François Champollion, said Mansour.

He added that attempts to learn about that part of history prior to the deciphering of the writing system had been incomplete.

Hieroglyphic carvings found in ancient papyri, sarcophagi and on the walls of temples have preserved messages for millennia.

But archaeologists could unlock the writing after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, which repeats the same script in three different writing systems including hieroglyphs.

According to the British Museum’s website, researchers used the Ancient Greek writing to understand the characters used in hieroglyphs.

“We consider this discovery a very big revolution in the history of ancient languages,” said Ahmed Zayed, director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina itself, where the exhibition is hosted, has a significant history as the modern library was built in tribute to the famed Library of Alexandria that burned to the ground when Julius Caesar set fire to an enemy fleet in 48 B.C.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.


Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Why do you think it’s important to study ancient languages? Discuss.
  • Do you want to learn any ancient language or be able to read an ancient script? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • In your opinion, what’s an interesting fact about your country’s ancient history? Discuss.
  • If you were given the chance, would you like to go to the exhibit in Egypt? Why or why not? Discuss.