William Richard Hamilton*

William Richard HamiltonFRS, (1777–1859) was a British antiquarian, traveller and diplomat. He was son of Rev. Anthony Hamilton, Archdeacon of Colchester and Anne, daughter of Richard Terrick, Bishop of London.

In 1799 he was appointed chief private secretary to Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin. He was in Egypt as the British took it over from the French, and secured the Rosetta Stone.[1] After a voyage up the Nile, he wrote a well-known work of Egyptology.[2]

From 1809 to 1822 Hamilton served as Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and from 1822 to 1825 he was Minister and Envoy Plenipotentiary at the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In 1830 he succeeded Sir Thomas Lawrence as Secretary of the Society of Dilettanti, a post which he held until his death in 1859.

The geologist William John Hamilton was his son.

Hamilton’s Family Tree since then is available here from Geni.com

* Source: Wikipedia.

The Rosetta Stone**

The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portionDemotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek. Because it presents essentially the same text in all three scripts (with some minor differences between them), it provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Originally displayed within a temple, the stone was probably moved during the early Christian or medieval period and eventually used as building material in the construction of Fort Julien near the town of Rashid (Rosetta) in the Nile Delta. It was rediscovered there in 1799 by a soldier, Pierre-François Bouchard, of the French expedition to Egypt. As the first Ancient Egyptian bilingual text recovered in modern times, the Rosetta Stone aroused widespread public interest with its potential to decipher this hitherto untranslated ancient language. Lithographic copies and plaster casts began circulating among European museums and scholars. Meanwhile, British troops defeated the French in Egypt in 1801, and the original stone came into British possession under the Capitulation of Alexandria. Transported to London, it has been on public display at the British Museum since 1802. It is the most-visited object in the British Museum.

Requests for repatriation to Egypt

In July 2003, on the occasion of the British Museum’s 250th anniversary, Egypt first requested the return of the Rosetta Stone. Zahi Hawass, the former chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, asked that the stele berepatriated to Egypt, urging in comments to reporters: “If the British want to be remembered, if they want to restore their reputation, they should volunteer to return the Rosetta Stone because it is the icon of our Egyptian identity”.[73] Two years later in Paris he repeated the proposal, listing the stone as one of several key items belonging to Egypt’s cultural heritage, a list which also included the iconic bust of Nefertiti in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin; a statue of the Great Pyramid architect Hemiunu in the Roemer-und-Pelizaeus-Museum in Hildesheim, Germany; the Dendara Temple Zodiac in the Louvre in Paris; and the bust of Ankhhaf from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.[74] During 2005, the British Museum presented to Egypt a full-size replica of the stele. This was initially displayed in the renovated Rashid National Museum, close to the site where the stone was found.[75] By November 2005, Hawass was suggesting a three-month loan of the Rosetta Stone, while reiterating the eventual goal of a permanent return;[76] in December 2009, he proposed to drop his claim for the permanent return of the Rosetta Stone if the British Museum loaned the stone to Egypt for three months, for the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza in 2013.[77]

"Photo of a public square in Rashid (Rosetta) in Egypt featuring a replica of the Rosetta Stone"

A replica of the Rosetta Stone in Rashid (Rosetta), Egypt

As John Ray has observed, “the day may come when the stone has spent longer in the British Museum than it ever did in Rosetta.”[78] There is strong opposition among national museums to the repatriation of objects of international cultural significance such as the Rosetta Stone. In response to repeated Greek requests for return of the Elgin Marbles and similar requests to other museums around the world, in 2002, over 30 of the world’s leading museums — including the British Museumthe Louvre, the Pergamon Museum in Berlin and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City — issued a joint statement declaring that “objects acquired in earlier times must be viewed in the light of different sensitivities and values reflective of that earlier era” and that “museums serve not just the citizens of one nation but the people of every nation”.[79]

**Source: Wikipedia.

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