I got to thinking about the Rosetta Stone this morning. Before doing my research and discovering what the Rosetta Stone said, I was wondering what may have been going through the mind of the creator. The stone is in three languages – Demotic, classical Greek, and hieroglyphic. Using Demotic and classical Greek, scholars were eventually able to translate hieroglyphics because the same text is repeated on the stone in the three languages. Did the person who carved the stone know it would eventually be a key for translating an ancient language?
The text on the stone is a decree from Ptolemy V. Apparently, he really wanted to get his point across and papyrus wasn’t permanent enough. “Here, scribe! Write it in stone!” (The Wikipedia article linked above indicates that decrees from the Ptolemaic period were required to be displayed at temple courtyards, so stone makes sense.) If the stone was made by one person, that means that this person was fluent in at least three languages. Now I wonder how long it took to carve the thing.