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Jean-Francois Champollion

1790-1832

 

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Champollion 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

 

Jean-Francois Champollion

 

 

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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