December 22, 2014
Monday Geology Picture: Written in Stone
Posted by Evelyn Mervine
A few weeks ago I flew from the USA back to my home base of Cape Town, South Africa. During the journey, I had a long layover in London, so I left the airport for awhile and did some sightseeing. Among other touring, I spent several hours at The British Museum, where I saw many interesting artefacts. The most fascinating and awe-inspiring artefact that I saw was a slab of granodiorite. Now, a slab of granodiorite may not sound like much. After all, granodiorite is a common rock type. However, this particular slab of granodiorite has some words written on it. Specifically, it has an Ancient Egyptian royal decree written on it in three different scripts: Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic (another type of Ancient Egyptian script), and Ancient Greek. That’s right… this granodiorite slab is the Rosetta Stone, the artefact that allowed modern linguists to decode the meaning of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. After linguists puzzled out the text on the Rosetta Stone, people were, for the first time in centuries, able to read hieroglyphs. This makes the words on the Rosetta granodiorite some of the most important ever to be written in stone. Discovered in 1799, the Rosetta Stone has been on display at The British Museum since 1802. The picture above shows me visiting the Rosetta Stone in November 2014.