The Rosetta Stone: What It Is and Why It Matters

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Duration 01:04:49

Rutgers University

Gary A. Rendsburg serves as the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History at Rutgers University.  His teaching and research focus on the Bible, ancient Israel, ancient Egypt, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Hebrew manuscript tradition, and Jewish life in the Middle Ages.  Rendsburg has visited all of the major archaeological sites of Israel, Egypt and Jordan, excavated at Tel Dor and Caesarea, and conducted extensive research on medieval Hebrew manuscripts at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Cambridge University Library, and the Vatican Library in Rome. Professor Rendsburg is the author of seven books, including his most recent: How the Bible Is Written.



This year marks the 200th anniversary of the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics by the French savant Jean-François Champollion, announced during his famous lecture in Paris in September 1822.  The key, of course, was the Rosetta Stone: a bilingual Greek-Egyptian inscription discovered by French archaeologists in 1799.

How did the whole process unfold?  What steps were taken prior to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone towards the elucidation of Egyptian hieroglyphics?  Why did it take so long, even with a bilingual inscription, for someone to be able to read the Egyptian portion?  In fact, what precisely is the Rosetta Stone?  And if it was discovered by the French, how and why did it come to be housed in the British Museum in London?

Join Professor Gary Rendsburg for all this and much more – including a basic tutorial in the reading of Egyptian hieroglyphics – as we consider one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time.




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Great lecture! A wonderful overview and refresher of the ancient world and the 18th and 19th c. environment in which the Rosetta Stone was discovered and translated. Well-paced and informative.

2 years ago
Pete Che'

Excellent presentation

Interesting and well presented. This lecture has peaked my interest in the subject, I will read some of the material he referenced.

1 year ago

Excellent lecture.

Masterful accounting of a multi-faceted topic in a concise manner. Very engaging and informative.

1 year ago
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