Rosetta Stone moved for the first time in 18 years

Hieroglyphs: Unlocking Ancient Egypt will be on display from October 13.

October 02, 2022

The Rosetta Stone has temporarily moved to a special exhibition at the British Museum to celebrate 200 years since the hieroglyphics were decoded.

It is the first time the ancient object has been moved since it was installed in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery 18 years ago.

In 1799, the inscribed slab was discovered by a group of soldiers and later it became the key that unlocked the mysterious hieroglyphic script of ancient Egypt.

The stone will be the focus of the British Museum’s Hieroglyphs: Unlocking Ancient Egypt exhibition which runs from October 13 to February 19.

Exhibition curator Ilona Regulski told the PA news agency: “We are telling the story of the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs that happened 200 years ago, so that is what we are celebrating. .

“The Rosetta Stone is crucial to the history of decipherment because it provided the key to deciphering hieroglyphics.

“We couldn’t really tell the story of deciphering hieroglyphics without the Rosetta Stone, so we decided it would have a good place in the exhibition.

“Furthermore, it gives us the opportunity to contextualize the story a bit better and tell more complete stories about the stone’s role in decipherment, but also about its arrival in the British Museum.”

Ms Regulski said the Rosetta Stone was in the Louvre museum in Paris “for a very brief period” in 1972 and was also moved during World War II for its protection, but has not been moved for 18 years.

Senior Curator Stephanie Vasiliou prepares the Rosetta Stone (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Speaking about the time it took to organize the exhibition, she said: “I think about three years. I think I started doing research in 2019.

“You build the story in your head as a curator, and then at some point, I think a little over a year later, we kind of got the core team together.

“Now it’s quite a large team because we’re building the exhibit. I am very excited.

Ms Regulski, who is also curator of written culture at the British Museum, said they were replacing the Rosetta Stone with a temporary exhibition.

“We are of course taking this opportunity of the empty storefront to do a new display and it’s almost ready,” she said.

“It is an opportunity to rethink this whole exhibition and this space, which is really a crossroads between different cultures of the ancient world.

“We’re using this as a sort of pilot to see how we can approach the history of the different interconnected cultures of the ancient world.”

The immersive display, which will include digital and audio media, will bring together more than 240 objects retracing the race to decipher.

A featured item in the exhibit will feature “the Enchanted Pool” – a large black granite sarcophagus covered in hieroglyphics from around 600 BCE.

Rosetta stone
The Rosetta Stone (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The hieroglyphics were believed to have magical powers and bathing in the basin could offer relief from the torments of love.

Likewise, Queen Nedjmet’s 3,000-year-old Illustrated Book of the Dead will feature alongside a set of canopic vessels that held the organs of the deceased.

It will be the first time a set of jars have been brought together since the 1700s, the museum said.

Aberuait’s mummy bandage from the Louvre Museum in Paris, which has never been displayed in the UK, will also be on display.

Speaking about her aspirations for the exhibit, Ms. Regulski added, “I hope visitors will, of course, learn about ancient Egypt. It’s always a wonderful opportunity to show new research on one of the most amazing ancient civilizations.

“I hope they understand that ancient Egypt was a distant culture but is also relevant to understanding human practices today, we have a lot in common with ancient people.

“I tried to show that by deciphering the hieroglyphics we really get a glimpse of ancient Egypt that wasn’t possible before.

“We understand much better now how ordinary people lived, how they liked to write, because most people couldn’t read or write of course, so they would have enjoyed the written culture by listening to it, by performances and quotes .

“I really hope to get the message across that behind the hieroglyphs there is a spoken language, it was a way to communicate with each other.”

Comments are closed.