Is Rosetta Stone the Most Valuable Possession of the British Museum?

British Museum Guided Tour
Rosetta Stone

If you are a person who loves to visit museums and admire the beauty of artworks and artifacts that are housed in them, then you should certainly go on a British Museum guided tour. There are a number of historically significant objects in the museum, but the most valuable possession inside the British Museum is arguably the Rosetta Stone.

Most tourists who visit the British Museum in London have already heard of the Rosetta Stone and it is the first thing they rush to after entering into the museum. However, many tourists have no idea on what Rosetta Stone actually is.

Learning about the discovery and importance of this object will certainly allow you to make your British Museum guided tour a bit more memorable. So here is a glimpse of the discovery and significance of the Rosetta Stone.

The Discovery

The famous Napoleon Bonaparte had campaigned in Egypt during 1798 to 1801 to threaten the British hold in India. Archeologists believe that soldiers in the Napoleon army unintentionally stumbled upon the Rosetta Stone when they were digging foundations near the town of Rashid (Rosita) in the Nile delta. After the defeat of Napoleon, this stone became the sole property of the British according to the terms of the Treaty of Alexandria.

The Rosetta Stone is actually a portion of a larger stone slab with a particular message carved into it. Interestingly, the carved message is in three different types of writing, which was an integral clue that helped experts to learn and decode the Egyptian hieroglyphs, the medieval writing system that used pictures as signs.

The Significance

The carved writings on the Rosetta Stone are actually an official message or decree from the King Ptolemy V Epiphanes. The decree was copied to large stone slabs and placed in every Egyptian temple during the reign of King Epiphanes. The Rosetta Stone is one among the stone slabs that were placed inside the temples.

Another significant thing is that the decree is inscribed thrice in ancient Greek, Demotic, and hieroglyphs. To be precise, the Rosetta Stone contains 14 lines of hieroglyphic script, 32 lines of Demotic script, and 53 lines of ancient Greek script. This was highly significant to Egyptology, and after several years, scholars used the Greek inscription on this stone for deciphering the message.