Champollion and the italian contribution to the rediscovery of ancient Egypt


‘This exhibition is made up of artefacts from the museum of Padua, Mantua, Bologna, Florence, and Naples, from the ‘Barracco’ Museum of Rome, and the Institut de France in Paris. Its aim is to recall the figures of Jean Franáois Champollion, the second centenary of whose birth was recently celebrated, and Ippolito Rosellini. Jean François Champollion was born at Figeac in France in 1970. From a very early age he began to study oriental languages of which he became a teacher when he was only 18. He is considered the father of Egyptology; the man who found the key to hieroglyphics and unveiled the mysteries not only of phonetic but also ideographic script. The decisive mo-ment of his studies was when he discovered the Rosetta Stone during the Napoleonic campaigns in Egypt in 1799. The Stone bears three texts in three different scripts: two are in the Egyptian language, in hieratic script (that of the priests) and demotic script (vulgar), the last is in Greek. Champollion, who was only able to begin studying the Stone in 1821, starting with the Greek text which was perfectly clear to him, managed to identify the groups of signs with alphabetical value which reproduced in Egyptian the names of King Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra. This was the key which opened the door to Egyptian hieroglyphics. Ippolito Rosellini was born in Pisa in 1800. The most talented discipline of Champollion, he accompanied him (between 1828 and 1829) on the French-Tuscan literary expedition to Egypt sponsored by Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany and the King of France, Charles X. He was the first Italian to hold the chair of Egyptology purposely created at Pisa University in 1825. This exhibition, to be held in Rimini from 24 August to 28 September, is divided into two parts: one, French, where the artefacts from the Institut de France are on show, and the other Italian with all the objects from the Italian museums mentioned above. This latter section also wishes to underline the contribution given to Egyptology by other Italian scholars such as G.B. Belzoni, B. Drovetti (who formed the nucleus of the exhibits in Turin’s Egyptian Museum), G. Nizzoli and G. Acerbi.’


24 Agosto 1991 - 28 Settembre 1991


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