March 21, 2008
The Real Actual 2200 Year Old Rosetta Stone From Egypt - What Does it Have to Do with Good Friday?
...as opposed to the new-fangled language learning software program by the same name.
Did you know that the Rosetta Stone is housed at the British Museum in London? I only just found out a week or two ago. I decided it would be a sad thing to live an hour from London all this time and never actually visit the Rosetta Stone, so we went yesterday after school.
- It's much THICKER than I imagined from the photos I'd seen
- It's much BIGGER than I thought (again, from photos)
- The writing is much SMALLER (they sure fit a lot on that piece of rock)
Here's a 12-question quiz for you, with the answers below:
1. How many languages on the Rosetta Stone?
2. What are those languages?
3. When was it made?
4. When was it found again?
5. What country was it found in?
6. What nationality found it?
7. Of what profession were the finders?
8. Then what nationality did it pass to?
10. What does the Rosetta Stone actually SAY?
11. Why is the Rosetta Stone important?
12. What does the Rosetta Stone have to do with Good Friday?
2. Hieroglyphics, Demotic, and Greek (Bonus: Demotic was the everyday language of the Egyptians at the time; hieroglyphics were used by the educated priests; Greek was the governmental language)
3. 196 B.C.
4. 1799 A.D.
5. Egypt (Bonus: in Rosetta, or El-Rashid, at a French fort)
9. Napoleon surrendered Egypt to the British in 1801, and the Rosetta Stone was among the treasures gained.
10. It's a long Egyptian priestly edict about Pharaoh Ptolemy V, upon the one-year anniversary of his coronation, when he was 13 years old. It lists all the great things he's already done, and affirms the nation-wide deity and worship of this particular pharaoh:
"King Ptolemy, living forever, the Manifest God whose excellence is fine Here is the rest of the actual text, translated into English. It taught me a new word: uraeus - A cobra emblem worn by the pharaoh as part of his headdress. The cobra was meant to protect the pharaoh by spitting fire at his enemies. A symbol of kingship [...] symbolizing sovereignty, royalty, deity; symbol of divine authority.
[...] he being a god, the son of a god and a goddess
[...] he having the heart of a beneficent god
[...] there should be produced a cult image for King Ptolemy, the Manifest God whose excellence is fine
[...] King Ptolemy [...] and [...] the Father-loving Gods, who brought him into being, and [...] the Beneficent Gods, who brought into being those who brought him into being, and [...] the Brother-and-Sister Gods, who brought into being those who brought them into being, and [...] the Saviour Gods, the ancestors of his ancestors
[...] a statue should be set up for King Ptolemy, living forever, the Manifest God whose excellence is fine [...] together with a statue for the local god
[...] a procession festival should be held in the temples and the whole of Egypt for King Ptolemy, living forever, the Manifest God whose excellence is fine, each year, [...] with [...] burnt offerings and libations being performed
[...] it should be made possible for the private persons also who will (so) wish, to produce the likeness of the shrine of the Manifest God whose excellence is fine, [...] and to keep it in their homes and hold the festivals and the processions which are described above, each year, so that it may become known that the inhabitants of Egypt pay honour to the Manifest God whose excellence is fine [...] and the decree should be written on a stela of hard stone, in sacred writing, document writing, and Greek writing, and it should be set up in the first-class temples, the second-class temples and the third-class temples, next to the statue of the King, living forever."
11. Back in 196 BC, the Egyptians wrote the hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone (and lots of other places!), but by the 4th century AD, knowledge of the language had died out. 1400 years later, the discovery of the trilingual Rosetta Stone enabled the deciphering of the hieroglyphics via the Greek so that they were understandable again (though it took 20 years to work it all out). No wonder the language-learning programs are named after it - only they promise faster results.
12. On the first and actual really Good Friday, a sign was written in three languages, one of which was Greek. The other two were Latin and Aramaic (the local daily language, much like Demotic on the Rosetta Stone). But this sign said "Jesus, King of the Jews" and it was fastened to the cross to which Jesus was nailed. It talked about One truly worthy of worship, who laid His life down for His people and bought our freedom. The One who after his death truly did rise again and lives forever. The one whose Father said, "Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God" (Lev. 26:1). Because Jesus is already a solid and sacred stone in Himself: "I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed" (Isaiah 28:16).
Footnote: while at the British Museum, we also took a brief look at the Elgin Marbles (many sculpted pieces and friezes taken from the Acropolis in Athens), in preparation for our upcoming trip to Greece, and we now know something they have in common with the Rosetta Stone: the country they were found in wants them back, but the British Museum isn't budging!
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How very cool! And I wouldn't have thought of the link between the 2, but God is so cool how He is present in EVERYTHING, isn't HE??
After studying ancients this year, sounds like there's a ton in UK from everywhere...but we have to be thankful that at least they were interested in preserving so much, when so many elsewhere weren't. Looking forward to seeing pics of GREECE! And reading your wonderful reports :-)
Posted by: ANgie | Mar 24, 2008 1:47:47 AM
Thanks for the fascinating background details on the Rosetta Stone. My boys will enjoy this post :-)
Posted by: Skeller | Mar 24, 2008 2:52:25 PM