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8.9.04

Champollion's House

Maison de ChampollionAn article (Isère: maison de Champollion ouverte, September 6) from France 2 Cultural News reports the opening of a new museum near Grenoble, in southeastern France. In 2000, the state government of the Isère purchased the Maison Champollion—the childhood home of Jean-François Champollion, the French pioneer of Egyptology—which will be open to the public with a special exhibit until May 4, 2005, when it will close for a couple years to be made into a permanent museum. The museum, in the town of Vif, will display

the Egyptologist's personal library, his archives, and the rubbing of the Rosetta Stone, used to decode the hieroglyphs. At the same time, the Ninth International Conference of Egyptologists will be held in Grenoble, from September 6 to 12, with the thorny question of the Pyramid of Cheops as a backdrop.
As has been widely reported (in English, in French), two French amateur Egyptologists want to make a small hole in a part of a wall inside the pyramid, because they believe they know the location of the burial chamber of Cheops, which has never been found. Zawi Hawas, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, has labeled them "amateurs looking for celebrity and money" and has denied their request. They will all be at the meeting in Grenoble.

Although Champollion was born in Figeac in the Lot region, he went to Grenoble to continue his education under his elder brother, Jacques-Joseph. Jean-François went to high school there, reading a paper on the Coptic language before the Académie de Grenoble when he was only 16. (As a teenager and adult he studied Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Chaldean, Chinese, Coptic, Ethiopic, Sanskrit, Zend, Pahlevi and Persian.) He then became, at age 18, a professor of ancient history at the University of Grenoble before continuing his work in Paris. He was buried in the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, with an obelisk marking his grave. According to the article, he remained attached to Grenoble, always maintaining an office in the house, which belonged to his brother, who assisted him in his work. Visitors will also be able to see "period furniture, drawings and sketches, and the beam in Jean-François Champollion's bedroom where he liked to draw hieroglyphs. The garden will house a workshop for learning how to decode hieroglyphs. Entrance to the museum is free.

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