Portrait of Herodotus, identified after 
other known inscribed portraits of the 
historian. Greek marble, Roman copy 
of a Greek original of the early 
4th century BC
The Birth of Egyptology

b. , 484 BC?, Halicarnassus, Asia Minor [now Bodrum, Tur.]?
d. 430, -420 
Greek author of the first great narrative history produced in the ancient world, the History of the Greco-Persian Wars.

It is believed that Herodotus was born at Halicarnassus, a Greek city in southwest Asia Minor that was then under Persian rule. The precise dates of his birth and death are alike uncertain. He is thought to have resided in Athens and to have met Sophocles and then to have left for Thurii, a new colony in southern Italy sponsored by Athens. The latest event alluded to in his History belongs to 430, but how soon after or where he died is not known. There is good reason to believe that he was in Athens, or at least in central Greece, during the early years of the Peloponnesian War, from 431, and that his work was published and known there before 425.

fl. c. 300 BC 
also spelled MANETHOS, OR MANETHON, Egyptian priest who wrote a history of Egypt in Greek, probably for Ptolemy I (305-282).

Manetho's history has not survived except for some fragments of narrative in Josephus' treatise "Against Apion" and tables of dynasties, kings, and lengths of reigns in the works of Julius Africanus, Eusebius, and George Syncellus. The fragments thus preserved showed that Manetho's work was based on good native sources. These fragments have been of much service to scholars in confirming the succession of kings where the archaeological evidence was inconclusive, and Manetho's division of the rulers of Egypt into 30 dynasties is still accepted. 


Jacques-Louis David. 
Bonaparte Crossing the St. Bernard Pass, 1800.
French, Neoclassic
b. Aug. 15, 1769, Ajaccio, Corsica
d. May 5, 1821, St. Helena Island 

French in full NAPOLÉON BONAPARTE, original Italian NAPOLEONE BUONAPARTE, byname THE CORSICAN, or THE LITTLE CORPORAL, French LE CORSE, or LE PETIT CAPORAL French general, First Consul (1799-1804), and emperor of the French (1804-1814/15), one of the most celebrated personages in the history of the West. He revolutionized military organization and training; sponsored the Napoleonic Code; the prototype of later civil-law codes; reorganized education; and established the long-lived Concordat with the papacy.


The Egyptian Campaign, 1798-99

While Bonaparte waited for the right moment to seize power, he looked to win new glories. Great Britain dominated the seas and enjoyed unbridled success in overseas trade. France was still at war with Great Britain, and Bonaparte hoped to disrupt British trade routes to India and establish French domination in the exotic east. He eluded a British fleet, captured the port of Malta, and on July 1, 1798, landed with 35,000 soldiers in Egypt.

Bonaparte quickly captured Alexandria, and then on July 3, led his soldiers across the desert toward Cairo — and a looming battle.


For centuries the Egyptians had been part of the Turkish Empire, ruled by the fiercest warriors in the Middle East — the Mamelukes.

On July 21, 1798, after marching two weeks across the desert, Bonaparte’s armies came within sight of the pyramids — and 10,000 Mamelukes drawn up on horseback across the sands.

"Soldiers," Bonaparte said, "from the height of these pyramids, forty centuries look down upon you."

Napoleon just organized his army into five gigantic squares. These are men kneeling and standing and firing so you got a continual rolling fire. The Mamelukes rode around the squares and were shot at by that square and by this square. The French lost thirty men, the Mamelukes lost probably five or six thousand.

The Battle of the Pyramids was over in an hour. Three days later, Bonaparte led his army into Cairo.


The Rosetta Stone, Egypt, 
Ptolemaic Period, 196 BC

Soldiers in Napoleon's army discovered the Rosetta Stone in 1799 while digging the foundations of an addition to a fort near the town of el-Rashid (Rosetta). On Napoleon's defeat, the stone became the property of the British under the terms of the Treaty of Alexandria (1801) along with other antiquities that the French had found.


A valuable key to the decipherment of hieroglyphs, the inscription on the Rosetta Stone is a decree passed by a council of priests. It is one of a series that affirm the royal cult of the 13-year-old Ptolemy V on the first anniversary of his coronation.

Thomas Young, English physicist, 
Jean-François Champollion, French scholar

demotic adj [Gk demotikos, fr. demotes commoner, fr. demos] (1822) 1: of, relating to, or written in a simplified form of the ancient Egyptian hieratic writing 2: popular, common <~ idiom> 3: of or relating to the form of Modern Greek that is based on everyday speech