Thursday July 15, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Rosetta Stone

On this Day:

In 1799, The Rosetta Stone was found in the Egyptian village of Rosetta by French Captain Pierre-François Bouchard during Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign.

The Rosetta Stone is a granodiorite stele inscribed with three versions of a decree issued in Memphis, Egypt in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty on behalf of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes. The top and middle texts are in Ancient Egyptian using hieroglyphic and Demotic scripts respectively, while the bottom is in Ancient Greek. The decree has only minor differences between the three versions, making the Rosetta Stone key to deciphering the Egyptian scripts.

The stone was carved during the Hellenistic period and is believed to have originally been displayed within a temple, possibly at nearby Sais. It was probably moved in late antiquity or during the Mameluk period, and was eventually used as building material in the construction of Fort Julien near the town of Rashid (Rosetta) in the Nile Delta. It was discovered there in July 1799 by French officer Pierre-François Bouchard during the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt. It was the first Ancient Egyptian bilingual text recovered in modern times, and it aroused widespread public interest with its potential to decipher this previously untranslated hieroglyphic script. Lithographic copies and plaster casts soon began circulating among European museums and scholars. When the British defeated the French they took the stone to London under the Capitulation of Alexandria in 1801. It has been on public display at the British Museum almost continuously since 1802 and is the most visited object there.

Study of the decree was already underway when the first complete translation of the Greek text was published in 1803. Jean-François Champollion announced the transliteration of the Egyptian scripts in Paris in 1822; it took longer still before scholars were able to read Ancient Egyptian inscriptions and literature confidently. Major advances in the decoding were recognition that the stone offered three versions of the same text (1799); that the demotic text used phonetic characters to spell foreign names (1802); that the hieroglyphic text did so as well, and had pervasive similarities to the demotic (1814); and that phonetic characters were also used to spell native Egyptian words (1822–1824).

Three other fragmentary copies of the same decree were discovered later, and several similar Egyptian bilingual or trilingual inscriptions are now known, including three slightly earlier Ptolemaic decrees: the Decree of Alexandria in 243 BC, the Decree of Canopus in 238 BC, and the Memphis decree of Ptolemy IV, c. 218 BC. The Rosetta Stone is no longer unique, but it was the essential key to the modern understanding of ancient Egyptian literature and civilization. The term ‘Rosetta Stone’ is now used to refer to the essential clue to a new field of knowledge.

Prior to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and its eventual decipherment, the ancient Egyptian language and script had not been understood since shortly before the fall of the Roman Empire. The usage of the hieroglyphic script had become increasingly specialised even in the later Pharaonic period; by the 4th century AD, few Egyptians were capable of reading them. Monumental use of hieroglyphs ceased as temple priesthoods died out and Egypt was converted to Christianity; the last known inscription is dated to 24 August 394, found at Philae and known as the Graffito of Esmet-Akhom. The last demotic text, also from Philae, was written in 452.

Hieroglyphs retained their pictorial appearance, and classical authors emphasised this aspect, in sharp contrast to the Greek and Roman alphabets. In the 5th century, the priest Horapollo wrote Hieroglyphica, an explanation of almost 200 glyphs. His work was believed to be authoritative, yet it was misleading in many ways, and this and other works were a lasting impediment to the understanding of Egyptian writing. Later attempts at decipherment were made by Arab historians in medieval Egypt during the 9th and 10th centuries. Dhul-Nun al-Misri and Ibn Wahshiyya were the first historians to study hieroglyphs, by comparing them to the contemporary Coptic language used by Coptic priests in their time. The study of hieroglyphs continued with fruitless attempts at decipherment by European scholars, notably Johannes Goropius Becanus in the 16th century, Athanasius Kircher in the 17th, and Georg Zoëga in the 18th. The discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 provided critical missing information, gradually revealed by a succession of scholars, that eventually allowed Jean-François Champollion to solve the puzzle that Kircher had called the riddle of the Sphinx (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

Here is a text exchange between a boyfriend (BF) and his girlfriend (GF):

BF: .. .—-. — / … — .-. .-. -.–    [translation: I’M SORRY]

GF: What’s that?

BF: Remorse code.

Second, a Song:


Translated Love is an original song featuring the greatest number of languages used on the same track in the history of music.

They have garnered 2,287,338 video views  – not bad with a small budget!


Translated has been helping people from the most distant and diverse populations and countries to communicate and understand one another since 1999. Love is a universal feeling that transcends languages and creates bridges between people. Through love we can live as one. Translated Love was born from both the need to understand one another and the need for love.


38 different languages (and voices) in a single song. Having composed the music and lyrics, we brought together about 100 of our translators to create the multilingual version of the text. We then emailed about 10,000 translators, inviting them to add their voices to our project. From the many recorded voices from different parts of the world, 38 were selected, each from a different geographical area. The various voice clips were then combined and aligned in the recording studio to obtain the final vocal track. In some cases the voices were also modified syllable by syllable using an audio modulation technique, as some translators chose to speak rather than sing.

For the video we chose hundreds of clips shot around the world and purchased the footage that suited the story we had created, with a particular focus on videos that showed people dancing. Finally, we stitched the clips together, synchronising and color correcting them, a cinematic technique that allows for a uniform color scheme throughout the video.


Psychological profiling of internet users and artificial intelligence have recently been exploited for several controversial purposes.

Two big data analytics companies (Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ) have garnered attention for the persuasive techniques used to effectively influence voters, having designed communication strategies based on users’ psychological profiles derived from data related to their online behavior.

Under the guidance of Robert Mercer, already a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, these strategies were based on the Big Five Theory, which reduces human personality to five character traits, and on studies from psychologist Michal Kosinski, who has developed a method for determining a precise psychological profile by analyzing a user’s activity on Facebook.

We used similar techniques to promote a message of love and peace, going beyond geographical boundaries (per

Here is Translated Love.  I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“Each language has its own take on the world. That’s why a translation can never be absolutely exact, and therefore, when you enter another language and speak with its speakers, you become a slightly different person; you learn a different sort of world.” – Kate Grenville

Further to the Tape Measure Smile, Frank Fowlie of Richmond, BC, Canada writes:

“The film version of Rent is highly recommended as well.  The music and the cast are wonderful. It’s on my top 10 movies of all time!
Best regards,

Dr. Frank Fowlie”

Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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