The Keys of Egypt

Lesley & Roy Adkins

A vivid account of the nineteenth century battle between an English polymath and a French Genius to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs

… Virtually everything we know today about ancient Egypt is a result of our ability to read the writing of the pharaohs, which in turn can be traced back to Jean-François Champollion.

The Adkins duo succeed in providing a fascinating and elegantly written biography of Champollion, doing justice to one of the great stories of academic heroism. Deciphering ancient scripts and seeing into the minds of the ancients is an inherently intriguing concept. As the classics scholar Maurice Pope, put it: “Decipherments are by far the most glamorous achievements of scholarship. There is a touch of magic about unknown writing, especially when it comes from the remote past.”

(extract from Simon Singh’s review, Sunday Telegraph, 3 September 2000)