Engineer, Deceased Person
1776 – 1854
Who was Jean-Joseph Marcel?
Jean-Joseph Marcel was a French printer and engineer. He was also a savant who accompanied Napoleon's 1798 campaign in Egypt as a member of the Commission des Sciences et des Arts, a corps of 167 technical experts.
Marcel was born in Paris, France. During the French Campaign in Egypt, the Rosetta Stone was discovered and transported to Cairo for examination by scholars. Jean-Joseph Marcel, who was also a gifted linguist, is credited as the first person to recognise that the middle text of the Rosetta Stone, originally guessed to be Syriac, was in fact the Egyptian demotic script, rarely used for stone inscriptions and therefore seldom seen by scholars at that time. It was Marcel, along with the artist and inventor Nicolas-Jacques Conté, who figured out a way to use the Stone as a printing block. The prints that were made were circulated to scholars in Europe, who started the work of translating the texts, which culminated just over 20 years later, when Jean-François Champollion deciphered the Egyptian texts in 1822.
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