July 15, 1799. French Lieutenant Pierre-Francois Bouchard discovers a slab of black granite while on expeditiion in Rashid (Rosetta) Egypt, a slab just over a metre high that became known as the Rosetta Stone and proved a major breakthrouugh in the modern understanding of ancient texts. The stone essentially presents a text written in three scripts: Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Egyptian demotic script and Ancient Greek. Originally created in 196 BC to declare the divinity of King Ptolemy V, it was the first example of a bilingual text to be viewed by modern historians. As the texts were almost exact translations of each other, scholars were able to decode hieroglyphs that had previously been a mystery. British troops captured the Rosetta Stone from the French in 1801 and it is now one of the most viewed exhibits in the British Museum.
(picture by Hans Hillewaert – The Rossa Stone in the British Museum)
Also on July 15: Boeing is incorporated in Seattle, USA (1916); beginning of the second Battle of the Marne in WWII (1918); Gianni Versace is shot dead outside his home in Florida (1997)
Born on July 15: Rembrandt (1606), Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov (1870), Iris Murdoch (1919), Jacques Derrida (1930), Brigitte Nielsen (1963).