Cracking the Egyptian Code

Cracking the Egyptian Code

The Revolutionary Life of Jean-François Champollion

  1. Andrew Robinson
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  • ISBN 9780500051719
  • 23.40 x 15.60 cm
  • Hardback
  • 272pp
  • 86 Illustrations, 16 in colour
  • First published 2012
‘This is a spirited account of a fascinating subject: the birth of Egyptology’ – John Ray, author of 'The Rosetta Stone and the Rebirth of Ancient Egypt'
‘An entertaining, highly readable and authoritative biography of the greatest decipherer of all time, the man who almost single-handedly enabled us to read the hitherto mysterious Egyptian hieroglyphs’ – Michael D. Coe, author of 'Breaking the Maya Code'
‘At last, a definitive biography of Champollion in English! … A memorable, enjoyable and beautifully written historical detective story’ – Brian Fagan, author of 'The Rape of the Nile', and 'Floods, Famines and Emperors'
'Robinson's biography is a most welcome and long-overdue study in English of an enigmatic and still controversial genius. His splendidly produced and absorbing book should be in every Egyptologist's library’ – Egyptian Archaeology

Ancient Egypt still fascinates us more than any other ancient civilization. But no Greek or Roman could read the elaborate Egyptian hieroglyphs: for almost two millennia, the hieroglyphic script became a ‘lost language’, until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone by Napoleon’s soldiers in Egypt in 1799.

Despite the efforts of some of Europe’s most intelligent scholars to crack the hieroglyphic code, it was an impoverished, arrogant and brilliant child of the French Revolution, Jean-François Champollion, who made the vital breakthrough.

Today, Champollion is rightly regarded as the founder of Egyptology, and is a national hero in France. Robinson’s full-blooded account brings one of the world’s greatest code-breakers, his setbacks and his ultimate triumphs vividly to life.

This finely illustrated biography – the first in English – charts Champollion’s dramatic life and achievements: how, against the odds, he began to decipher a lost world, led an expedition to Egypt with royal backing, lived in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, and made the voices of the pharaohs and their subjects speak. Living life to the full, he formed undying friendships and rivalries – but his obsession eventually drove him into an early death, at the age of only 41.

Andrew Robinson is the author of some twenty-five books. They include The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs and Pictograms, and Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts, as well as biographies of Michael Ventris (The Man Who Deciphered Linear B) and Thomas Young (The Last Man Who Knew Everything) – the polymath who competed with Champollion to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs. He holds degrees from Oxford University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and has been a visiting fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. A former literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement, he is a regular book reviewer for newspapers, magazines and journals. See Andrew Robinson's website

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