The Keys of Egypt | Adkins History

The Keys of Egypt: The Race to Crack the Hieroglyph Code



‘Champollion’s story has long deserved to be told, and the husband-and-wife authors of The Keys of Egypt have told it extremely well, producing a fascinating account of the race to unlock the cryptic language of the pharaohs … The Keys of Egypt – always readable and enjoyable – is a worthy tribute to the man who named, and unlocked, the Valley of the Kings’ (Giles Milton, )

‘But an even more gripping journey into things Egyptological can be found in The Keys of Egypt – a compulsive account of the life of Jean-Francois Champollion … As told by the Adkinses, Champollion’s life is the stuff of a 19th-century novel … A first-rate blend of high scholarship and great narrative pace, this is one of those rare, wondrous books which turns an intellectual adventure into high drama. It deserves a huge audience’ (Douglas Kennedy, )

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    ‘The Keys of Egypt reads like a gripping detective story, moving along at a good pace, as well as offering the reader an introduction into how hieroglyphs can be understood. This is a “must read” for anyone interested in Egyptology’ (Lori-Ann Foley, )

    What Champollion Found

    In "The Keys of Egypt," Lesley and Roy Adkins explore the amazing story of Champollion and his discovery of a system to understand hieroglyphs. As the authors write, "Champollion's success was based on twenty years of obsessive hard work, all too often in difficult circumstances, and he would soon be able to read the literature from 3,000 years of human history that had been unintelligible for centuries." Through his many years of work, the wonders of Egypt was finally opened to the world.

    As he reassembled pieces of papyrus, Champollion said, "I have gathered, while scarcely breathing for fear of reducing them to powder, such little pieces of papyrus, the last and only refuge of the memory of a king who in his lifetime perhaps found himself cramped in the immense palace of Karnak."

    With Champollion's important breakthrough, we were able to read and understand the narrative works of Egyptian literature, along with an assorted array of letters, treatises, lists, archives, and accounts from ancient Egypt.