Crack­ing the Egyp­tian Code

Timeless Travels Magazine - - BOOK REVIEWS -

An­drew Robin­son Thames & Hud­son Pub­lished: Jan­uary 2018 Price: £9.99

The­full ti­tle of this book

is Crack­ing the Egyp­tian Code: the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Life of Jean-Fran­cois Cham­pol­lion

and it was a life more rev­o­lu­tion­ary than pre­vi­ously ap­pre­ci­ated. Ev­ery­one knows that Cham­pol­lion un­locked the se­crets of Egyp­tian hi­ero­glyphs or ‘cracked the Egyp­tian code’, but they might not know the strug­gles his life en­tailed.

Born in 1790, he was a teenage pro­fes­sor, a cu­ra­tor of the royal ori­en­tal col­lec­tions at the Lou­vre as well as an Egyp­tol­o­gist. But he also lived in the tur­bu­lent pe­riod of so­cial up­heaval and po­lit­i­cal tur­moil, caught in the wake of regime changes from Napoleon Bon­a­parte to Louis XIII and back again. For his sup­port of Napoleon he was ex­iled from Paris to Greno­ble, and his schol­ar­ship was ham­pered by ag­grieved of­fi­cials. He was im­pov­er­ished and de­pen­dent on his brother for sup­port through­out most of his life.

Robin­son in­ter­weaves Cham­pol­lion’s story with that of his brother and also Thomas Young, his coun­ter­part in Eng­land who was on the same quest to de­ci­pher the strange Egyp­tian sym­bols. A great story even if you are not into Egyp­tol­ogy.

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