The Translators who Broke the Code
The British linguist Stephen Weston deciphered the Greek part in 1802. Others, namely the British physicist Thomas Young, the Swedish diplomat Johann Akerblad and the French linguist Silvestre de Sacy attempted to decipher Demotic Script and the Hieroglyphics and had a limited measure of success.
Champollion studied their research, worked on his own and, after long years of study, went on to crack the code. His expertise in Coptic (he knew eleven languages), plus his determination gave him an edge over the others. Young's research too played a big role in assisting him, something Champollion remained reluctant to admit.
On 27 September 1822, he presented a paper, 'Lettre a M. Dacier', detailing his research and compilation of 26 alphabet letters to M.Dacier, the permanent secretary of the French Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. Two years later, in 1824, he published further research in a book ' Précis du système hiéroglyphique'.
The remarkable work of these ground-breaking translators paved the way for unlocking the secrets of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Translation was then, and is now, an exciting career to pursue.