Art Diary

Hieroglyphs: Unlocking Ancient Egypt

14 October 2022

Marking 200 years since the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs, this exhibition at the British Museum in London (until 19 February 2023) celebrates the work of French Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion that allowed us to understand the ancient script. The display includes the 3,000-year-old royal cubic rod of Amenemope (18th dynasty) used by Champollion to decipher Egyptian mathematics and reveals how efforts by Renaissance scholars contributed to his ultimate success. Also on show is ‘The Enchanted Basin’ or the sarcophagus of Hapman, a nobleman of the 26th dynasty (c. 600 BC). Later reused as a ritual bath at the Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, the hieroglyphs running down its sides were believed to have the power to relieve heartbreak. Find out more on the British Museum’s website.

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‘The Enchanted Basin’ or Sarcophagus of Hapmen, Egypt, 26th Dynasty (600 BC) © The Trustees of the British Museum

Royal cubic rod of Amenemope, Egypt, 18th Dynasty. Museo Egizio, Torino

The Rosetta Stone, Rasid, Egypt (196 BC). © The Trustees of the British Museum