Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Eissa during a ceremony organized on Tuesday evening in celebration of the 200th anniversary of deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs carved into the Rosetta Stone. (Photo courtesy of Tourism Ministry)
Issa's remarks came during a ceremony organised by the tourism ministry in celebration of the 200th anniversary of deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs carved into the Rosetta Stone.
Chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Mostafa Waziri said that Egyptology, the study of Pharaonic Egypt from 4500 BC to 641 AD, came into existence after decoding the ancient texts on the Rosetta Stone.
Currently, on display at the British Museum, the stone was discovered on 15 July 1799 while digging the foundations of an addition to a fort near the town of Rashid (Rosetta) in the Nile Delta, during Napoleon's futile campaign in Egypt.
Upon Napoleon's defeat, the stone became the property of the British under the terms of the Treaty of Alexandria signed in 1801 along with other antiquities that the French had found. The stone was shipped to England and arrived in Portsmouth in February 1802.
The first attempts to decipher the text on the Rosetta Stone were by French Silvestre de Sacy in 1802. Then he handed the copy to the Swedish Akerblad who managed in two months to read the names mentioned in the Demotic script, but because he thought the Demotic script was an alphabetic script, he could not go any further.
In 1814, a big leap was achieved by English scientist Thomas Young, when a copy of the text fell into his hands, he realised that the Demotic script was written in signs not alphabets, then he suggested that hieroglyphics and Demotic are related scripts. Most importantly, he managed to read the cartouches of Ptolemy and Bernice.
Despite all previous efforts in deciphering the Rosetta Stone, the greatest credit goes to French Jean-François Champollion whose knowledge about the Coptic language helped him a lot when he worked on the Rosetta Stone.
On Tuesday, Egypt launched an online promotional campaign under the rubric: “200 years of science in the making,” targeting a number of countries including the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Spain.
Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) announced on Tuesday that some 4.9 million tourists visited Egypt in the first half of 2022, an 85.4 percent increase compared to the first half of 2021, when 2.6 million tourists visited the country.
In a statement issued on World Tourism Day on 27 September, CAPMAS said that eight million tourists visited Egypt in 2021, a 117.5 percent increase compared to 3.7 million tourists in 2020.
Eastern Europe topped the areas exporting tourists to Egypt in 2021 at 50.6 percent, followed by the Middle East at 18.9 percent, Western Europe at 16.4 percent, and Africa at 7.1 percent.
The total number of tourists coming from Arab countries in 2021 reached two million, a 114.9 percent increase compared to 900,000 tourists in 2020.
CAPMAS also revealed that the total number of nights spent by tourists in Egypt during the first half of 2022 was 52.6 million nights, a 63.6 percent increase compared to 32.2 million nights in the first half of 2021.