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Jean Francois Champollion

      The deciphering of hieroglyphics is one of the greatest achievements of the human race in this century. Jean Francois Champollion was the man who accomplished this great feat. He is surnamed "le jeune," the younger, to distinguish him from his elder brother, Champollion Figeac, whose life was one of paternal devotion and the most unselfish sacrifice for his younger brother. Both were born in Figeac, in the south of France, Francois on December 23, 1790. He made his home, however, in the beautiful little town of Grenoble, situated on the hills near the valley of the Isere. It was to this place that Champollion Figeac, who was here engaged as director of the town library, and later on as professor of Greek at the university, drew his twelve years younger brother Francois, who, at the age of nine, went to live with his elder brother, filled with the proudest hopes for the future, and grateful for the care and devotion bestowed upon him.

      At that time, naturally, all eyes were turned toward Egypt, where the First Consul, Bonaparte, had led the army of the Republic, accompanied by a host of celebrated men of science. The newly opened world of monuments on the banks of the Nile excited the greatest interest in everybody; but for few did it have as strong an attraction as for Champollion Figeac, who had occupied himself long previously with the study of the history and language of the ancient Egyptians. Furthermore, he and his brother Francois came, so to say, into indir... more of the Biography of Jean Francois Champollion

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