The deciphering of the Rosetta stone was one of the great intellectual achievements of all time, unlocking the secrets of thousands of years of Egypt’s ancient civilization. Yet in the past two centuries, the circumstances surrounding this bravura feat of translation have become shrouded in myth and mystery. Now in his spellbinding book, Daniel Meyerson recounts the extraordinary true story of how the lives of two geniuses–the emperor Napoleon and the linguist Jean-François Champollion–converged in a breakthrough that revolutionized our understanding of the past.
In this sweeping narrative, the haunting story of the Rosetta stone–its discovery in a doomed battle, the plot to secure it, the agonizing race to unlock its secrets, and the pain it seemed to inflict on all who touched it–reads like the most engrossing fiction. As counterpoint to the stories of the brilliant linguist and the visionary emperor, Meyerson interweaves the ancient tales of love, intrigue, brutal death, and miraculous rebirth that were hidden for centuries on the walls of Egyptian tombs–stories that Champollion finally made accessible to the world.
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