For most of us, we have heard of the Rosetta Stone through the language-learning software. However, the actual Egyptian antiquity, made in 196 BCE, is now making headlines for the question of its ownership.
The Rosetta Stone was originally discovered by French soldiers in 1799 when the French invaded the Ottoman Empire but was quickly changed hands when the British defeated the French in 1801. According to the Treaty of Alexandria, the stone now belonged to the British. The Rosetta Stone is about 45 inches tall and includes inscriptions about priesthood. It is significant in history because it included some Greek as well as hieroglyphics in the inscriptions. Using the Greek writing, the British could solve the ancient puzzle and decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Today, the Rosetta Stone rests in display in the British Museum, but it may not for long. In 2002, Dr. Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, requested that the stone come back to its homeland of Egypt, where he thinks that it rightfully belongs. Because the stone was looted by the French, Hawass expresses, it never legally belonged to the British after the Treaty of Alexandria. After extensive consultation, however, the British ownership of the stone was confirmed legal in 2005. Now it has become a moral issue as to where the Rosetta Stone should reside and debate continues today. It appears that this issue will be resolved by 2013, which is when the Grand Egyptian Museum is set to open. One possible resolution is to rotate the stone between the Louvre (in Paris), the British Museum, and the Grand Egyptian Museum. Personally, I feel that this is the best solution because it gives people from all over the world an opportunity to see an important artifact. The stone is very durable, and would not be harmed during transportation. If this rotational ownership were to occur, the stone would once again link cultures, as it did 200 years ago.
Egypt Wants Rosetta Stone Back–Youtube Video
Downs, Jonathan. “Returning the Rosetta Stone to Egypt.” The Rosetta Stone: the Controversy, the Solutions. 24 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Sept. 2011. <http://jdownsrosetta.wordpress.com/>.