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Jean Francois Champollion

Archaeology is the study of the past with the aid of antiques, which artists and researchers use to reconstruct places and locations in previous existences. Archaeologists are the people involved in the study of the past by excavating buried evidence (Stiebing 1994). Through archaeology, the world has come to discover a lot of events and places that were not known to have existed before. Further, archaeology has enabled humankind to understand the lives, activities and practices of their ancestors. The body of knowledge obtained by archaeologists has been vital in enabling historians understand the occurrences of the past. The study of ancient Egyptian lifestyle, for instance drew a lot of attention in the nineteenth through to the twentieth century. Few names are as synonymous with archaeological studies in Egypt as Jean Francois Champollion is. Champollion is credited with deciphering and shedding more light on the Egyptian hieroglyphics (Stiebing 1994).

Throughout the archaeological studies, discoveries in Egypt were made but they had little use since no one understood the hieroglyphic writings inscribed on the stones and other monuments. Archaeologists such as Benzoli did well to discover tombs and sculptures of Pharaohs. However, all these proved trivial without the ability to make out the writings on the monuments. Jean Francois Champollion, a Frenchman, had interest in hieroglyphics since he was only eleven years old. His interest gradually grew into full-blown desire to study and understand Egyptian hieroglyphics. He made it his objective to study Latin, Greek, German, English and Italian languages (Stiebing 1994). These languages were important in helping him make the breakthrough in the writings. In addition, he learned other local languages to make the process of research a lot easier for him. By 1824, Champollion had published a book entitled Synopsis of the Hieroglyphic System. At the time of his death, he had published more books on hieroglyphics. In addition, he left a grammar book and a dictionary of Egyptian words to be published. Champollion essentially gave Egypt and the rest of the world a glimpse into the history of Egyptians. Without his translation work, most of the information obtained thereafter would have remained a mystery for a long time. Using his work, scholars could reconstruct a three thousand year old history (Stiebing 1994).