Cairo Lecture: The Genius of Champollion

Presented by: Dr. Ola El Aguizy

  • 6:00 PM EET
  • In PersonARCE Cairo Center
    2 Midan Simon Bolivar
    Garden City Cairo Governorate 11461
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Lecture Information

Jean-Francois Champollion, born in Figeac in 1790, began his passion for Egyptology at the age of 14. He learned all the languages that could help him in the study of the ancient Egyptian civilization. He began to study hieroglyphs through the texts of the obelisks in Rome and the texts copied by the members of the French Expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte in Egypt. During his appointment as professor of history in the University of Grenoble he began his work on the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone, at the age of 22. In 1826 he began his trip to Egypt and spent two years on a boat from Cairo to Abu-Simbel and Wadi-Halfa. It was on this trip that he visited all the sites and copied all the inscriptions that he could gather. His draughtman Cherubini, helped him in copying the hieroglyphic signs. It is this genius whom they named “the Egyptian” and the “giant” who authored the first exhaustive grammar of the ancient Egyptian language. Thus, Champollion’s genius was not only the decipherment of the text of the Rosetta stone, but also its grammar. 

Speaker Bio

Dr. Ola El Aguizy is a renowned Egyptologist recognized for her expertise in ancient Egyptian scripts including hieroglyphic, hieratic, Coptic and Demotic. From the beginning of her academic career as a professor of ancient Egyptian languages at Cairo University in 1998, through her position as Dean of the Archaeology Faculty at Cairo University, Dr. Ola influenced generations of Egyptian scholars, archaeologists and Egyptologists. In 2015 her colleagues honored her with a Festschrift, entitled Mélanges offerts à Ola el-Aguizy, in recognition of her contributions to Egyptology. Since 2005 Dr. Ola has headed the Cairo University Faculty of Archaeology excavation team in Saqqara, south of the Causeway of King Unas. Here, the expedition discovered several New Kingdom tombs of high officials and military men from the time of Sethi I and Ramesses II including the tombs of Ptahmose, Wadjmes, Iwrkhy, and as recently as 2021, the tomb of Ptah-M-Wia, the head of the treasury under Ramesses II. Dr. Ola’s focus on Champollion and his work on the Rosetta Stone was heightened while translating the French book on “Les Hiéroglyphes de Champollion” by Markus Messling, for the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and the article written for the Bibliothèque Nationale de France on Champollion entitled “Que reste-t-il de Champollion en Egypte?”