“So 1,419 hieroglyphs corresponded to 486 Greek words; and among these 1,419 hieroglyphs there were only 166 individual signs. If each hieroglyph truly represented an idea or word, then one would have expected similar numbers of hieroglyphs and Greek words, and a larger set of separate signs, each one representing a different idea or word. All of a sudden, it must have struck Champollion that the hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone could be explained not by a purely ‘ideographic’ system, but by a small set of frequently employed phonetic hieroglyphs . . . mixed with many more non-phonetic hieroglyphs that stood only for ideas or words.” – via Washington Post.
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