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Languages die. But if they're lucky, a thousand-odd years later, someone unearths an artefact that brings them back to life.
Laura Welcher of the Rosetta Project shows us the Rosetta Disk, a slice of electroplated nickel three inches in diameter that bears text in 1500 languages for future linguists to decipher. Ilona Regulski of the British Museum describes how its namesake, the Rosetta Stone, unlocked hieroglyphics.
- You can't pick up the Rosetta Stone because it weighs approximately 760kg; but you can pick up some Rosetta Stone merch.
- Read the Rosetta Disk - it may take a while...
- The Long Now Foundation is also building a giant clock inside a mountain.
- Save a sixpence; here's the text of the British Museum's 1913 guide to the Rosetta Stone.
- A quick guide to hieroglyphics, and a longer one.
- You want more? Here's how to draw them, and here's the grammar.
- The British Museum has a new podcast. Hear the first episode.
Next time, in The Key part II: why languages die, and how you bring them back to life when you don't have a Rosetta Stone or Disk to hand.
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MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
- Laura Welcher is the director of the Rosetta Project at the Long Now Foundation, based in the Interval in the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, San Francisco.
- Ilona Regulski is the curator for Egyptian culture at the British Museum.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman, with the aid of Cheeka Eyers and Devon Taylor. The music is by Martin Austwick.
- Thanks to Sian Toogood and Nick Harris of the British Museum, and Avery Trufelman.