Jean-François Champollion

1790 (Figeac, France) – 1832 (Paris)

The mathematician Fourier (who had beens Napoleon’s Governor in Upper Egypt) set Champollion on the road to the decypherment of hieroglyphs. Champollion met Fourier aged 11, became his protégé, and when shown hieroglyphs by him, decided what his life’s work was to be. Young and he were in correspondence when he started working on the Rosetta Stone; while they feuded over Young’s relative achievement (unsurprisingly, given English/French rivalry of the time), Champollion did later invite Young to research in the Louvre. Humboldt, also a philologist, maintained a lively learned correspondence with Champollion.

Jean-François Champollion knew…