Cracking the Egyptian Code
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.