Skip to main content

Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

See other formats

The Story of the Alphabet              77
Etruscan and Cretan (Fig 10) are a sealed book to this day The story
of the Rosetta Stone discloses the clues which have made it possible for
scholars to decipher (Figs, i, 5, and 18) lost languages. It is told in the
following quotation from Griffith's helpful book. The Story of Letters
and Numbers'.
"There were strange stories and fictions about the learning of the
Egyptians, so that for a long tune men had a strong desire to get back
a clear knowledge of the writings. They had nothing to go on, there
were no word-books or other helps Then in 1799, by the best of good
chances, a man in the French Army, working under Napoleon, saw an
old stone m a wall at Rosetta on one of the branches of the river Nile,
with three sorts of writing on it One was the old Egyptian picture-
writing, which was the same as the writing on the walls of buildings,
the second was another of which men had no knowledge, but the third
was in Greek, clear and simple The reading of this was no trouble to
men of letters From the Greek it was seen that the stone gave an
account of a king named PTOLEMAIOS, and of the good things which he
had done as a mark of his respect for the religion of Egypt The last
line of the Greek says that *a copy of the writing is to be made on hard
stone in the old writing of the men of religion, and m the writing of
the country, and in Greek' The year this was done was 196 B.C. So it
was certain that the two strange writings were in Egyptian, but in
different sorts of letters, and that the Greek gave the sense of the
"In the Greek, the name PTOLEMAIOS comes eight or nine times,
sometimes by itself, and sometimes with the words LOVED OF PTAH in
addition Part of the top of the stone, where the picture-writing comes,
is broken off, but fourteen lines are there, and in these are five groups
of letters or pictures with a line round them, having two long parallel
sides and curved ends with a short upright line at one end This seems
to have been the Egyptian way of 'underlining' important words Three
of the groups are shorter than the other two, but the longer ones are
started with the same, or almost the same, letters or pictures So it
seems probable that the outlined words are PTOLEMAIOS and PTOLEMAIOS
LOVED OF PTAH. Ptah was one of the higher beings of the religion of
"On other stones to the memory of the great dead, groups of letters
are to be seen with the line round them, which makes us more certain
that such outlined words are the names of Kings and Queens One
such name on an old stone was KLEOPATRA, the name of a Queen who
was living in Egypt two hundred years before the Cleopatra of Shake-
speare's Antony and Cleopatra
"This much and a little more was the discovery of Dr Thomas
Young, an English man of science, who made, in addition, some attempt
at reading the second form of the Egyptian writing on the stone The
reading of the picture-writing in full was the work of J F Champohon,