British historian and journalist Jonathan Downs, author of Discovery at Rosetta: Revealing Ancient Egypt (AUC Press, paperback, 2020) will give a virtual talk on September 27 at 6pm Cairo Time.
Downs is also the author of Sea-Soldier (2000), and The Industrial Revolution 1770–1809 (2010). He has lectured at universities and private associations on the subject of Napoleonic Egypt, and written numerous articles concerning the repatriation of Egyptian artefacts and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution for the UK’s History Today magazine. He currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
The Rosetta Stone is arguably the most important Egyptian artefact ever discovered. It became the code-key to reading ancient hieroglyphics, the sacred script of the powerful priesthood—a skill lost for nearly 2000 years, and a puzzle that had defied scholars from Europe and the Middle East for centuries. Downs’s book Discovery at Rosetta offers the first full account of the British acquisition of the Rosetta Stone in 1801, from discovery to decipherment.
Downs takes us through the extraordinary adventure of Napoleon Bonaparte’s mission to conquer Egypt, and how his hand-picked academic specialists awakened the world to the lost civilisation of the pharaohs. From the invasion of Egypt and the stone’s unexpected discovery, through a tale of spies and lies, to final decipherment by Jean-François Champollion, this is the secret history of the Rosetta Stone and the cracking of the hieroglyph code. Read a recent Q&A with the author.