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Jean-Franois Champollion
For the Champollion comet rendezvous spacecraft, see Champollion (spacecraft).

Jean-François Champollion (23 December 17904 March 1832) is remembered particularly for one achievement: his translation of the Rosetta stone, which became the basis of the study of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

He was born at Figeac, Lot, in France and showed an extraordinary linguistic talent, even as a child. By the age of 16 he had mastered a dozen languages and by 20 this included Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Amharic, Sanskrit, Avestan, Pahlavi, Arabic, Syriac, Chaldean, Persian, and Chinese in addition to his native French. In 1809, he became Professor of History at Grenoble. His interest in oriental languages, especially Coptic, led to his being entrusted with the task of deciphering the writing on the recently-discovered Rosetta Stone, and he spent the years 18221824 on this task, greatly expanding the works of Thomas Young on the area, which proved the key to the study of Egyptology. He also identified the importance of the Turin King List.

Champollion was subsequently created Professor of Egyptology at the Collge de France. However, exhausted by his labours during and after his scientific expedition to Egypt between 1828 and 1830, he died of an apoplectic attack in Paris in 1832 at the age of 41 and is buried in the Pre Lachaise cemetery.

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