was a French Egyptologist, who is acknowledged as the father of modern
Egyptology. He achieved many things during his short career, but he is
best known for his work on the Rosetta Stone. It was his
deciphering of the hieroglyphics contained on the Stone that laid the
foundations for Egyptian archaeology. He was born in 1790. His oldest
brother educated him until he turned 10, at which time he was enrolled in
the Lyceum in Grenoble
His brother was
also an archaeologist, and it is probably from his influence that he developed
a passion for languages in general and for Egypt in particular. While he was
at the Lyceum, he presented a paper in which he argued that the language of
the Copts in contemporary Egypt was in essence the same as that used by the
Egyptians of antiquity.
His education continued at the
College de France, where he specialized in languages of the Orient. He knew
bits and pieces of many languages, and was fluent in several others. A partial
listing of the languages he was familiar with is astounding: Hebrew, Arabic,
Syriac, Chaldean, Chinese, Coptic, Ethiopic, Sanskrit, Pahlevi, and Persian.
When he finished his education,
he was invited to teach Royal College of Grenoble, where he taught history and
politics. By the age of 19, he had earned his Doctor of Letters and his career
began really taking off. He continued to teach at Grenoble until 1816. In
1818, he was appointed to a chair in history and geography at the Royal
College of Grenoble, and taught there until 1821.
While he was teaching, he continued his research on ancient Egypt. He began to be noticed by others, and that resulted in his appointment as the conservator of the Louvre Museumís Egyptian Collection in 1826
In 1828, he began a year-long
trip to Egypt. He traveled with one of his students, Ippolito Rosellini.
Rosellini was an Italian, who became a fairly well-known archaeologist in his
own right. While they toured Egypt, Champollion took detailed notes of what he
saw. Rosellini did the same, although his medium was engravings/drawings, and
not words. The notes and engravings they left behind are still regarded as
some of the best ever done. Together, they preserved a lot of information that
otherwise would have been lost.
In 1831, the First Chair of Egyptian antiquities was created for him at the College de France, and he became a member of the French Academy. Sadly, he didnít get to enjoy this coveted post very long. He died of a stroke in 1832.
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