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Cracking Codes: The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment Paperback – December 31, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (December 31, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520222482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520222489
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,319,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

In 1799, while Napoleon's troops battled the fierce Mamelukes in Egypt's Western Delta, a French engineer discovered a giant granite slab that contained strange symbols and Greek letters. Two Egyptologists, the British-born Thomas Young and the astounding young French linguistic polymath Jean-François Champollion, fought to decipher the confounding script in an epic scientific battle. In 1822 Champollion finally broke through 3,000 years of mystery and revealed the Egyptian demotic and hieroglyphic system of writing--forever changing our view of history in the process.

Cracking Codes, by Richard Parkinson, the British Museum's assistant keeper of Egyptian antiquities, is a companion volume for the museum's bicentennial exhibition of what has come to be known as the Rosetta stone. With 32 color and 200 black-and-white illustrations ranging from limestone fragments to whole statues, illustrated papyrus, and evocative wall paintings, Parkinson shows how Champollion's piercing of the mists of time has enabled the ancient Egyptians to speak to modern civilizations. Parkinson's essays on the importance of writing to human civilization and the birth of Egyptology are equally insightful. "The decipherment of the Egyptian scripts is not a single event that occurred in 1822," he writes, but "a continuous process that is repeated at every reading of a text or artifact. Like any process of reading, it is a dialogue." --Eugene Holley Jr.


"The latest word on hieroglyphs." -- The Sunday Times (UK) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kimba Girl on March 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
For those expecting to receive a high quality catalogue of the British Museum's Rosetta Stone exhibition, you will not be disappointed. But as an added bonus, the essays are not pedantic and dull, but eloquent and informative. They detail not only the finding of the stone and its impact on Egyptology, but also include chapters on the development of the Ancient Egyptian language, the scripts, tools used to write, and the ways in which these reflect the Egyptian world view.
Richard Parkinson's writing style makes this a joy to read! I would recommend it not only to those interested in the exhibit (the photos are of excellent quality), but those interested in Ancient Egyptian language and Egypt in general.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Francesca Jourdan on June 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was written as an accompanying extract to a British Museum exhibit celebrating the bicentenary of its discovery, and accurately presents the important Rosetta Stone. This is achieved by means of outlining the Stone's history, controversy around its discovery and its deciphering which gave the key to understanding the hieroglyphs. Using this as his starting point, the author continues to explore the role, power and importance of writing in Ancient Egypt as well as its many aspects (such as scribes and the tools used) and its relation to art. Other decipherments (Linear B and Meroitic) are also considered in this book. Readable, enjoyable and very informative, accompanied by black & white illustrations, it is recommended for anyone interested in the Ancient Egyptian language.
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