Page:The Religion of Ancient Egypt.djvu/29

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Euergetes." "His translations," says Dr. Birch, "are below criticism, being as unfounded as those of Kircher." Besides being unable to identify more than a very few alphabetic characters, he failed to recognize the nature of determinatives, no less an essential part of the key than the phonetic.


Champollion's discovery was of a very different nature. Besides the two kinds of Egyptian characters which are used on the Rosetta stone, there is a third, commonly called the hieratic. The hieroglyphic characters, with their accurately elaborate designs of animals, plants and other objects, are very suitable for monumental inscriptions, but very unsuitable for the ordinary purposes of life; and the Egyptians had from the earliest times used a tachygraphic or cursive character which is a rough and abridged form of the hieroglyphic. The stones of the great Pyramid bear notes upon them in this character which were already written in the quarry. At a much more recent period (some seven centuries before Christ), the character was still further abridged and debased, and assumed the form now called demotic, and this is the second character on the Rosetta stone. A great many documents in our museums are written in this character. Long before he suspected the real nature of Egyptian writing, Champollion had patiently studied the relations be-