July 19th, 2004

Scorpion

Courtesy Norton

On this day in 1799, during Napoleon Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovered a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rashid (Rosetta), about 35 miles north of Alexandria. Two decades later, French Egyptologist Jean Francois Champollion was able to decipher the hieroglyphic portion of the text.