Two hundred years ago, nobody knew how to read hieroglyphs. Even Egyptians had forgotten the meaning of those strange symbols written and chiselled by their ancestors.
A French man called Jean-Francois Champollion was the first to crack the code of hieroglyphs. The key was the Rosetta Stone, which contained the same message written in three different languages, including hieroglyphs. Jean-Francois used a language he did know (Greek) to decipher the one he didn’t (hieroglyphs).
In September 1822 he made his breakthrough. He was so excited, he ran through the streets of Paris to his brother-in-law’s workplace to tell him the news. “I’ve done it!” he shrieked, then collapsed in a faint right there on the carpet!
Here are some pictures of the famous Rosetta Stone. You can see the original in Room 4 of the British Museum (in a glass case, always surrounded by crowds) or a perfect replica in Room 1 (which you can put your nose to and examine in peace!).