Champollion and Rawlinson | Profile

The decoding of the hieroglyphic and cuneiform scripts is due to confirm that taxes motorized the spelling since ancient times.

The export of talented people was perhaps one of the most positive aspects of 19th century Anglo-French colonialism. Sir Henry Rawlinson, serving the British crown in the East, was able to finish deciphering cuneiform in 1850, one of the oldest. He is recognized as the ‘Father of Assyriology’.

Jean-François Champollion was a French linguist. He is considered the ‘Father of Egyptology’ for having unraveled the hieroglyphic writing thanks to the study of the Rosetta stone.

Writing, accounting and taxes.
The writing or graphic representation of speech, uses signs, traces or engravings on a support. It is a human way of preserving and transmitting information.

Both in Mesopotamia and in Egypt, the birth of writing is related to the administration and economy of the State and with taxes, which are the engine of history.

The pharaohs of Egypt used tax collectors, called scribes. The officials kept a detailed accounting of the collection, which was 20% of the production.

The Rosetta Stone, which led Champollion to decipher hieroglyphics, is nothing more than a tax concession granted by Ptolemy V in 196 BC. C. and written in three languages.

In Mesopotamia, a cuneiform writing system was invented, not for the purpose of telling stories but to record the flow of goods and products and the training of the bureaucracy for the subjugation of the masses, through taxes.

The theft-tax analogy was already popular in Egypt and Persia. The similarity between tax collectors and thieves was also already established.

Tax curiosities.
Although scholars have deciphered the sad story of historical exactions for us, the Sumerian tablets also give an account of the first social reform, which due to its characteristics is the first tax reform of humanity. Sumer prospered from 3000 BC; During the Akkadian rule from 2350 BC progress was halted by excessive taxes. The renaissance came with the Akkadian defeat. King Urukagina surely refunded and lowered taxes, established free trade and eliminated bureaucracy.

It is also known from the hieroglyphs that the Egyptians not only have to pay a fee to be able to use cooking oil, but also that they were obliged to buy the oil from Pharaoh, since he had a monopoly over the product; its price concealed a high tax. But the abuse did not end there: reusing the oil was prohibited and the ruler sent his officials to check that people used first-use oil.

The tributary oddities are a tiny sample of the amount of Sumerian and Egyptian information that English and French allowed us to discover with the decoding of their writings. Their achievements are magnified as they both worked out of passion in an adverse environment. Champollion came under threat in troubled France and Rawlinson investigated while he was serving in the military. Fortunately, the Frenchman was named curator of the Egyptian collection at the Louvre museum in 1826, and the British man not only received the title of First Baronet, but was also in charge of the British Museum from 1876 until his death.

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