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Champollion, Jean-François (1778-1867)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: French historian and linguist who founded scientific Egyptology and played a major role in the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics by deciphering the Rosetta Stone. A masterful linguist, Champollion started publishing papers on the hieroglyphic and hieratic elements of the Rosetta Stone in 1821-1822, and he went on to establish an entire list of hieroglyphic signs and their Greek equivalents. He was first to recognize that some of the signs were alphabetic, some syllabic, and some determinative (standing for a whole idea or object previously expressed). His brilliant discoveries met with great opposition, however. He became curator of the Egyptian collection at the Louvre, conducted an archaeological expedition to Egypt, and received the chair of Egyptian antiquities, created specially for him, at the Collège de France. He also published an Egyptian grammar and dictionary, as well as other works about Egypt.
lion
CATEGORY: fauna
DEFINITION: A large, powerfully built cat of the family Felidae, and the second largest of the big cats (after the tiger), now found wild only in Africa south of the Sahara. A few hundred live in Gir Forest National Park in Gujarat state, India. It has been, since earliest times, one of the best known of wild animals. During the late Pleistocene Epoch (1,600,000 to 10,000 years ago), lions had an extremely wide geographic distribution and ranged over all of North America and Africa, most of the Balkans, and across Anatolia and the Middle East into India. They disappeared from North America about 10,000 years ago, from the Balkans about 2,000 years ago, and from Palestine during the Crusades. It is possible that the connection between the king and the lion stemmed from the hunting of these animals by the tribal chiefs of the Predynastic period in Egypt.
medallion
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A large medal

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