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Cracking the Egyptian Code

The Revolutionary Life of Jean-François Champollion

Mr Andrew Robinson


The first biography in English of Jean-François Champollion, the genius who unlocked the secret of the hieroglyphs


Cracking the Egyptian Code is the first biography in English of Jean-François Champollion, the impoverished, arrogant and brilliant child of the French Revolution who made the vital breakthrough in deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs. This finely illustrated account charts Champollion’s dramatic life and achievements: by turns a teenage professor, a supporter of Napoleon, an exile, a fanatical decipherer and a curator at the Louvre, he lived life to the full but drove himself into an early grave. Andrew Robinson’s full-blooded account brings the man, his setbacks and his ultimate triumphs vividly to life.


'A life more revolutionary than previously appreciated … a great story'
Timeless Travels

'Robinson tells the story of Young and Champollion’s rivalry with a flair for the dramatic … [he] elucidates the complex subject of hieroglyphics with verve and scholarly enthusiasm'
Fortean Times

'Thoroughly researched'
Ancient Egypt Magazine

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Further Details


Format: Paperback

Size: 0.0 x 0.0 cm

Extent: 304 pp

Illustrations: 16

Publication date: 11 January 2018

ISBN: 9780500294178

Contents List

Prologue: Egyptomania • 1. Hieroglyphic ‘Delirium’ before Champollion • 2. A Revolutionary Childhood • 3. Reluctant Schoolboy • 4. Egypt Encountered • 5. Paris and the Rosetta Stone 6. Teenage Professor • 7. The Race Begins • 8. Napoleon and Champollion • 9. Exile and Revolt • 10. Breakthrough • 11. An Egyptian Renaissance • 12. Curator at the Louvre 13. To Egypt, At Last • 14. In Search of Ramesses • 15. First Professor of Egyptology 16. The Hieroglyphs after Champollion • Postscript: Geniuses and Polymaths

About the Author

Andrew Robinson has written more than 25 books on the arts and sciences. They include Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts, India: A Short History and Earthshock, which won the Association of Earth Science Editors Outstanding Publication Award, plus Earth-Shattering Events . A regular contributor to such magazines as Current World Archaeology, History Today, The Lancet, Nature and Science, he has also been literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement and a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge.