Monday, January 1, 2024

The Rosetta Stone (1799)

First, Happy New Year everyone!

This year's Painting Challenge focuses on libraries, and so I wanted to make sure I made my first entry about reading, specifically the words and symbols that we use to communicate out thoughts and ideas. 

Here is a small vignette depicting a group of Napoleonic soldiers and French academic savants examining the Rosetta Stone (perhaps only a few hours before it became a  British trophy). 

The Rosetta Stone was discovered by the French in 1799 during their ill-fated Egyptian campaign near the town of Rashid ('Rosetta') in the Nile Delta. 

As many know, the Rosetta Stone's importance stems from it providing the linguistic links between Egyptian and Greek, and three writing systems, hieroglyphics, demotic script (a cursive form of Egyptian hieroglyphics), and the Greek alphabet. The Stone provided a definitive key to translating Egyptian hieroglyphic writing.

The Rosetta Stone was later taken by the British as a war trophy, part of the Capitulation of Alexandria in 1801, resulting from their victory over the French in 1800. The Stone has been part of the British Museum's collection ever since, and is in fact their most viewed object. The Egyptian government has made requests for the Stone to be repatriated, but there has been little movement on this matter. With an increasing number of cultural objects being returned to their traditional owners, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and other priceless objects held in foreign repositories. 

I got the Rosetta Stone as a STL file from MyminiFactory. It's very cool in the sense that the file is from a scan of the original artefact. I simply reduced it down to scale to fit with 28mm figures. The assorted minis shown here are a conceit, coming from a previous Challenge years ago (and so will not be scored), but I thought it might be a bit of fun to have a scene depicting French scholars madly taking some sketches before the heathen British arrive to despoil their discovery.

- Curt


  1. As a retired archaeologist I thought was a smashing start to this year's AHPC, Curt. I've been tempted by a few STLs of classic Greek sculptures to litter my Ancients battlefields, and never thought about the Rosetta Stone until you raised it with this posting. Marvellous stuff.

    1. Ah, that's very interesting about your past career, Simon. Your Minion, Martijn, is the same!


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