This is the exciting story of the scramble to decipher hieroglyphics, and the rediscovery of the Nile Valley after it had been closed to Europeans for nearly 2,000 years, set against the background of Europe in the Napoleonic era and its aftermath.
Jean-Francois Champollion, the brilliant son of an impoverished bookseller, was obsessed with ancient languages from a very young age, and once he heard of the unreadable ancient Egyptian text he had found the challenge to which he would dedicate his life: the decipherment of hieroglyphs. He was only one of many attempting to read the hieroglyphs, and his main rival, the English Thomas Young, claimed that decipherment was imminent.
Finally in 1822 Champollion made the decisive breakthrough. He was the first person able to read the ancient Egyptian language in well over a thousand years. This is a true story of adventure; a passionate tale of intellectual discovery, outstanding individual achievement and triumph over extreme adversity.