Rosetta Stone moves in for the first time in 18 years

The Rosetta Stone has been temporarily moved to a special exhibit in the British Museum to celebrate the 200th anniversary of hieroglyphs being deciphered.

This is the first time the ancient object has been relocated since it was installed in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery 18 years ago.

In 1799, the inscription stone was accidentally found by a group of soldiers and then it became the key to unlock the mysterious hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt.

The stone will be the centerpiece of the British Museum’s Hieroglyphics: Unlocking Ancient Egypt exhibit, which will be on display from October 13 to February 19.

Exhibition curator Ilona Regulski told the PA news agency: “We’re telling the story of the decoding of Egyptian hieroglyphs that happened 200 years ago, so that’s what we’re celebrating.

“The Rosetta Stone is important to the cryptanalysis because it provides the key to deciphering hieroglyphs.

“We really wouldn’t be able to tell the hieroglyphic deciphering story without the Rosetta Stone, so we decided it would have a good place in the exhibition.

“Also, it provides us with the opportunity to contextualize the story a bit better and tell fuller stories about the stone’s role in the decipherment, and how it came to be at the British Museum. .”

Regulski said the Rosetta Stone was in Paris’ Louvre Museum “for a very short period of time” in 1972 and was also moved during World War II to protect it, but had not been moved. for 18 years.


Senior conservationist Stephanie Vasiliou prepares the Rosetta Stone before it is moved to a special exhibit in the British Museum to celebrate 200 years since hieroglyphs were deciphered (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Talking about how long the exhibition has taken to curate, she said: “I think about three years. I think I started my research in 2019.

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“You build the story in your head as a curator and then at a certain point, I think over a year later, we have the core team together.

“It’s a pretty big team now because we’re building the exhibition. I am very excited.”

Ms Regulski, who is also curator of literacy at the British Museum, says they are replacing the Rosetta Stone with a temporary display.

“Of course, we are using this blank display opportunity to create a new display and it is almost ready,” she said.

“This is an opportunity to rethink that whole gallery and that area, which was really the crossroads between the different cultures of the ancient world.

“We’re using this as a kind of pilot to see how we can tackle the story of how the different cultures of the ancient world are interconnected.”

The immersive display, which includes digital media and audio, will bring together more than 240 race-charting objects to decode.

A star object in the display will have an “enchanted pan” – a large black granite coffin covered with hieroglyphs from around 600 BC.


The Rosetta Stone before it was moved to a special exhibit (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Hieroglyphs are said to have magical powers, and a dip in a basin of water can help ease the torments of love.

Likewise, the 3,000-year-old illustrated Book of the Dead of Queen Nedjmet will present with a typical set of vessels to preserve the organs of the deceased.

The museum says it will be the first time a set of jars has been reunited since the 1700s.

Aberuait’s mummy tape from the Louvre Museum in Paris, which has never been shown in the UK, will also be on display.

Talking about her aspirations for the exhibition, Ms Regulski added: “Of course, I hope visitors will learn about ancient Egypt. It’s always a great opportunity to show off new research on one of the most amazing ancient civilizations.

“I hope they understand that ancient Egypt is a distant but also relevant culture to understand human practices today, we have a lot in common with the ancients.

“I tried to show that by deciphering the hieroglyphs we really get insight into ancient Egypt that was not possible before.

“Now we understand better how many ordinary people live, how they like to write, because of course most people can’t read and write, so they will enjoy the culture of writing by listening. listen to it, by performances and quotes.

“I hope to really get the message across that there’s a spoken language behind the hieroglyphs, it’s a means of communicating with each other.” Rosetta Stone moves in for the first time in 18 years

Fry Electronics Team

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