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Jean-François Champollion
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Jean-François Champollion


Jean-François Champollion (December 23, 1790 - March 4, 1832) is remembered particularly for one achievement: the translation of the Rosetta stone, which became the basis of the study of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

He was born at Figeac, Lot, in France and showed an extraordinary linguistic talent, even as a child. By the age of twenty he had mastered several languages, including Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Amharic, Sanskrit, Avestan, Pahlavi, Arabic, Syriac, Chaldean, Persian and Chinese in addition to his native French. In 1809, he became Professor of History at Grenoble. His interest in oriental languages, especially Coptic, led to his being entrusted with the task of deciphering the writing on the recently-discovered Rosetta Stone, and he spent the years 1822-1824 on this task, greatly expanding the works of Thomas Young on the area, which proved the key to the study of Egyptology. He also identified the importance of the Turin King List.

Subsequently created Professor of Egyptology at the Collège de France.

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