Private viewing at the British Museum with the British Egyptian Society

Marking 200 years since the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs, this major exhibition takes you through the trials and hard work that preceded, and the revelations that followed, this ground-breaking moment.

Hieroglyphs were not just beautiful symbols, they represented a living, spoken language. From romantic poetry and international treaties, to shopping lists and tax returns, the hieroglyphic inscriptions and ancient handwriting in this exhibition reveal stories that are fantastically varied. As well as an unshakeable belief in the power of the pharaohs and the promise of the afterlife, ancient Egyptians enjoyed good food, writing letters and making jokes.

The show will chart the race to decipherment, from initial efforts by medieval Arab travellers and Renaissance scholars to more focussed progress by French scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832) and England’s Thomas Young (1773–1829). The Rosetta Stone, discovered in 1799, with its decree written in hieroglyphs, demotic and the known language of ancient Greek, provided the key to decoding the ancient signs. The results of the 1822 breakthrough proved staggering.

Using inscriptions on the very objects that Champollion and other scholars studied, this immersive exhibition will help you to unlock one of the world’s oldest civilisations. 

Book your place

The British Egyptian Society has organised a private viewing of the exhibition for their members and have kindly invited members of the Egypt Exploration Society to join them. The BES ask for a donation of at least £15 from EES members wishing to join them. Payments can be made to their Secretary, Mr Noel Rands by emailing: [email protected], or using EventBrite here: 

The main entrance to the Museum in Great Russell Street opens to us at 6pm on Thursday 9th February 2023 and commences with a talk on the exhibition by one of the curators; the evening ends at 8pm. For Security Reasons the museum needs to know the names of those attending so can you please ensure that you have confirmed your attendance with Mr Rands in advance of the event.

This event is not organised by the Egypt Exploration Society. Bookings must be made via the British Egyptian Society.