A Bit of History About the Rosetta Stone: Some scientists accompanied Napoleon's French campaign in Egypt (1798-1801). After Napoleon Bonaparte founded the Institut de l'Egypte in Cairo in 1798 some 50 became members of it. On July 15th, 1799, just over a year after Napoleon launched his invasion of Egypt at Alexandria, a great discovery was made. Under the command of Lt. Pierre-François Bouchard (1772-1832), French soldiers were building up their defenses around the area of Fort St. Julian, near the northern city of Rosetta, when a soldier or engineer found in the ruins an ancient stone. With its cryptic inscriptions, Bouchard immediately understood the importance of the stone and showed it to General
Abdallah Jacques de Menou. It was immediately recognized as an object of great importance. It was sent to Cairo, where it was housed in the Institute d’Egypte. Members of Napoleon’s special civilian corps dispersed around the country were requested to go there at once. In 1801 the French had to surrender. A dispute arose about the results of the scientists - the French wishing to keep them, while the British considered them forfeit, in the name of King George III. In September 1801 English brevet Colonel Tomkyns Hilgrove Turner, who had fought at Aboukir Bay and Alexandria, went to visit Menou to procure the stone. Meanwhile the French scientist Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, writing to the English diplomat William Richard Hamilton threatened to burn all their discoveries, ominously referring to the burned Library of Alexandria. Turner cited the sixteenth article of the "Treaty of Alexandria". The British capitulated, and they insisted only on the delivery of the monuments. The French tried to hide the Stone in a boat despite the clauses of the capitulation, but failed. The French were allowed to take the imprints they had made previously, when embarking in Alexandria. General Menou handed it over grudgingly. A squad of artillerymen seized the stone without resistance. As they carted the magnificent ancient treasure through Alexandria, French soldiers and civilians collected on the streets and sputtered insults at them. In the spasmodic voyage from Egypt to England, many of the Egyptian antiquities were damaged. Because of the importance of the Rosetta Stone, however Colonel Turner personally accompanied this precious cargo on its journey aboard a frigate. The Rosetta Stone left Egypt from Alexandria and sailed into the English Channel in February 1802. At Deptford the stone was placed in a small boat and taken through customs. It was lodged at the quarters of the Society of Antiquaries so experts could examine it before being dispatched to its permanent station of public exhibition in the British Museum in London, England (since 1802).
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