The story of the Tower of Babel is a legend that depicts a time when all mankind spoke in a single language and communicated and worked together to construct a single tower tall enough to reach the heavens. Ahh, the good ole days… Upon seeing this, God scattered man and confused his language into many dialects unrecognizable to each other in order to prevent such collaborative endeavors. Thus sentencing me to years of Spanish classes!
Whatever you believe, since ancient times civilizations have struggled to communicate with one another. Then in around 200BC an Egyptian ruler commissioned translators to carve a stone with three languages in order to provide reference for translation. Genius! The stone, in modern times, became known as the Rosetta Stone named after the location it was unearthed. It became instrumental in deciphering the ancient writing of the Egyptians. Think of it as the Google Translate of antiquity.
Discovered in 1799, The Rosetta Stone has been on display in the British Museum since 1802. It is an impressive and fascinating artifact to see. This was my first visit to the British Museum and upon seeing the stone I was surprised by how big it was and how neatly organized the carved alphabets and inscriptions were. It is an important piece of human history, and in a word, “amazing”. It is this type of exhibit that makes me love and seek out the museums of the world.
Nowadays we carry small devices that translate the languages of the world at the tip of our finger, but imagine if we had to carry the 1,680lb Rosetta Stone around in our pockets. We’d all need bigger pockets!
The Rosetta Stone – The British Museum, London