Taoffi's blog

prisonniers du temps

Champollion: 20 months and 20 days in ancient Egypt


Jean-François Champollion who made the first translation of the ancient hieroglyph (in 1822-1824, before ever going to Egypt) made his first (and last) journey to Egypt in 1828-1829. He spent 20 months and 20 days in this journey (of which the last 60 days in quarantine in Toulon when he was back homeJ).

An amazing book "Lettres écrites d'Égypte et de Nubie en 1828 et 1829 by Jean-François Champollion" (there should be an English translation… don't really know) contains a collection of letters - written to his friends, family and some officials- that recount this journey in a very smooth and pedagogic way. In an annex, the book contains a very dense description of the History of ancient Egypt and neighboring civilizations.

Champollion was evidently passionate about ancient Egypt. During this journey, he seems to be revisiting places and events that he knew quite well. And he recounts all of this in a fascinating way.

One thing that may seem a little strange for us, is the time spent in travelling. For instance: it took him several months to travel from Paris to Luxor (in the south of Egypt)… which really seems too long now (probably unacceptable!).

In the same time, he could compose (with his small team), in less than 2 months, more than 600 entire exact colorful drawing copies of all the monuments he visited (including endless hieroglyphic texts!). All in quite harsh travelling conditions between the Nile cataracts.

Near the end of his journey, he heard that Jerusalem's Archbishop decided to honor him with a distinguished prize (Croix de chevalier du saint-sépulcure). He recounts that getting hold of the prize was too expensive for him (200 Louis)!

The book is also available in an audio version (in French) on the great Free Litérature audio web site.

(Not sure you can write code while hearing such a bookJ)

JAN 25… "Those stone-age men setting in chairs"

Egypt’s January 25 revolution is a great hope for humanity.

Against a regime of criminals with 1.8 million of “well-equipped” and “well-trained” anti-riot forces… and some more thugs, opportunists and other hypocrites… young peaceful people with human values could win.

We are living a new dawn for human values.