A copy of the rosetta stone, a slab of black basalt dating from 196 BC. inscribed by the ancient Egyptians with a royal decree praising their king Ptolemy V. The inscription is written on the stone three times, once in hieroglyphic, once in demotic, and once in Greek. Thomas Young, a British physicist, and Jean Francois Champollion, a French Egyptologist, collaborated to decipher the hieroglyphic and demotic texts by comparing them with the known Greek text. From this meager starting point a generation of Egyptologists eventually managed to read most everything that remains of the Egyptians’ ancient writings.