Jean-François Champollion


Jean-François Champollion (1790 – 1832) was born in Figeac, France, the last of seven children.  He was educated privately until he was nine years old, when he was sent to join his older brother, archeologist Jacques-Joseph Champollion,  at the Académie de Grenoble. By the age of 16 he had mastered a dozen languages and had presented a paper to the Grenoble Academy on the Coptic language. After an education at the School of Oriental Languages at the Collège de France, he mastered Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Amharic, Sanskrit, Avestan, Pahlavi, Arabic, Syriac, Chaldean,Persian, Ethiopic, and Chinese. In 1809, he became assistant-professor of History at Grenoble. His interest in oriental languages, especially Coptic, inspired him to begin deciphering the then recently-discovered Rosetta Stone in 1822. His 1824 work Précis du système hiéroglyphique gave birth to the entire field of modern Egyptology Champollion was subsequently made Professor of Egyptology at the Collège de France.


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Among the many items in the Steindorff collection is a letter written by Champollion requesting a book to assist him in his research.



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