The celebrated Rosetta Stone which supplied Champollion with the key for the decipherment of the ancient monuments of Egypt was found near Fort St Julien, 4 m.
Layard at Nineveh opened up a new world, coinciding as they did with the successful decipherment of the cuneiform system of writing.
James Prinsep was then devoting his rare genius to the decipherment of the early inscriptions of northern India, especially those of Asoka in the 3rd century B.C. He derived the greatest assistance from Tumour's work not only in historical information, but also as regards the forms of words and grammatical inflexions.
It was formerly the custom to assign the invention of algebra to the Greeks, but since the decipherment of the Rhind papyrus by Eisenlohr this view has changed, for in this work there are distinct signs of an algebraic analysis.
Before the decipherment of the cuneiform texts our knowledge of its history, however, was scanty and questionable.
- In the early days of the decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions, the reading of the proper names borne by Babylonians and Assyrians occasioned great difficulties; and though most of these difficulties have been overcome and there is general agreement among scholars as to the principles underlying both the formation and the pronunciation of the thousands of names that we encounter in historical records, business documents, votive inscriptions and literary productions, differences, though mostly of a minor character, still remain.
- The decipherment of the inscriptions of the XVIIIth Theban Dynasty led, before the middle of the 19th century, to the discovery of the important part played in the Syrian campaigns of Tethmosis (Thothmes) III.
In 1876 Sayce pointed out the resemblance between certain Hittite signs and characters in the lately deciphered Cypriote syllabary, and suggested that the comparison might lead to a beginning of decipherment; but the hope has proved vain.
Messerschmidt, editor of the best collection of Hittite texts up to date, made a tabula rasa of all systems of decipherment, asserting that only one sign out of two hundred the bisected oval, determinative of divinity - had been interpreted with any certainty; and in view of this opinion, coupled with the steady refusal of historians to apply the results of any Hittite decipherment, and the obvious lack of satisfactory verification, without which the piling of hypothesis on hypothesis may only lead further from probability, there is no choice but to suspend judgment for some time longer as to the inscriptions and all deductions drawn from them.
There was a further complication in that each one of these characters had at least two different phonetic values; and there were other intricacies of usage which, had they been foreknown by inquirers in the middle of the 19th century, might well have made the problem of decipherment seem an utterly hopeless one.
Among the letters in volume iii., we have one to the editor of the Ada Leipsica, giving the decipherment of two letters in secret characters.
More especially since the middle of the 19th century the decipherment of Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions and systematic excavation in Palestine and other parts of the East have supplied a multitude of new facts bearing more or less directly on the Old Testament.
Although Mai was not as successful in textual criticism as in the decipherment of manuscripts, he will always be remembered as a laborious and persevering pioneer, by whose efforts many ancient writings have been rescued from oblivion.
The extracts containing the Babylonian cosmology, the list of the antediluvian kings of Babylonia, and the Chaldaean story of the Deluge, have been shown by the decipherment of the cuneiform texts to have faithfully reproduced the native legends; we may, therefore, conclude that the rest of the History was equally trustworthy.
Brugsch's services to Egyptology are most important, particularly in the decipherment of demotic and the making of a vast hieroglyphicdemotic dictionary (1867-1882).
Accordingly, in 1867, Smith was appointed assistant in the Assyriology department, and the earliest of his successes was the discovery of two inscriptions, one fixing the date of the total eclipse of the sun in the month Sivan in May 763 B.C., and the other the date of an invasion of Babylonia by the Elamites in 2280 B.C. In 1871 he published Annals of Assur-bani-pal, transliterated and translated, and communicated to the newlyfounded Society of Biblical Archaeology a paper on "The Early History of Babylonia," and an account of his decipherment of the Cypriote inscriptions.
It need hardly be said that the Moslems have from of old applied themselves with great assiduity to the decipherment of these initials, and have sometimes found the deepest mysteries in them.
By such labors after forty years the results attained by Champollion in decipherment were entirely superseded.
Champollion's first decipherment of hieroglyphics dates from 1821.
But whereas Assyria takes the first place in the classical accounts to the exclusion of Babylonia, the decipherment of the inscriptions has proved that the converse was really the case, and that, with the exception of some seven or eight centuries, Assyria might be described as a province or dependency of Babylon.
Colebrooke, began to make known the treasures of Sanskrit literature, which the great scholars of Germany and France proceeded to develop. In Egypt the discovery of the Rosetta stone placed the key to the hieroglyphics within Western reach; and the decipherment of the cuneiform character enabled the patient scholars of Europe to recover the clues to the contents of the ancient libraries of Babylonia and Assyria.
Galton was the author of memoirs on various anthropometric subjects; he originated the process of composite portraiture, and paid much attention to finger-prints and their employment for the identification of criminals, his publications on this subject including Finger Prints (1892), Decipherment of Blurred Finger Prints (1893) and Finger Print Directories (1895).
The decipherment and interpretation by the learned Jesuits, Fathers Epping and Strassmeier, of a number of clay tablets preserved in the British Museum, have supplied detailed knowledge of the methods practised in Mesopotamia in the 2nd century B.C. 5 They show no trace of Greek influence, and were doubtless the improved outcome of an unbroken tradition.
At one time it was held that the constellation names and myths were of Greek origin; this view has now been disproved, and an examination of the Hellenic myths associated with the stars and star-groups in the light of the records revealed by the decipherment of Euphratean cuneiforms leads to the conclusion that in many, if not all, cases the Greek myth has a Euphratean parallel, and so renders it probable that the Greek constellation system and the cognate legends are primarily of Semitic or even pre-Semitic origin.