On July 19, 1799, the Rosetta Stone was discovered in Rashid (sometimes called Rosetta), Egypt. The Rosetta Stone is a large, black, granite-like slab (called a stele) meant to be erected in a public space.
Dated 196 BCE, the fragment of a giant granite stele outlines new rituals surrounding the worship of Pharaoh Ptolemy V.
The stone is inscribed in two languages: Egyptian and Greek, and three texts: hieroglyphic, Demotic, and Greek. Scholars were fluent in ancient Greek and Demotic, the writing system used by Egyptian scribes of the period. The translation of hieroglyphics, however, remained a mystery.
The Rosetta Stone allowed linguists to decipher hieroglyphics by comparing hieroglyphic symbols with a known text. Understanding hieroglyphics opened up almost all ancient Egyptian language and literature to Egyptologists and historians.
It was deciphered largely by Thomas Young of England, and Jean-Francois Champollion of France in 1882.