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Country of Origin: Egypt
Museum: The British Museum

The Rosetta Stone, a granite stone etched with three ancient scripts and dating to the second century B.C.E., has been considered one of the greatest artifacts of all time for the secrets it revealed about ancient languages, in particular hieroglyphics. Having been discovered in 1799 near Alexandria by a Frenchman, it was given to the British after France surrendered Egypt in 1801.

But the terms by which it ultimately entered the British Museum’s collection are unclear, and Zahi Hawass, the former head of Egypt’s antiquities department, has alleged that it was stolen. “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,” he once said. In 2009, when Hawass asked for the object to be loaned to Egypt, British Museum said that no official request for its return had been made by his country.” – ARTnews


30 Nov 2022: “In a statement, the British Museum said the 1801 treaty included the signature of an Ottoman admiral who fought alongside the British against the French, arguing that he represented Egypt as the Ottoman sultan nominally ruled Egypt at the time of Napoleon’s invasion.” – NB: Al Jazeera does not mention when this statement was made.

07 October 2022: “More than 2,500 archaeologists have signed a petition calling on the British Museum in London to repatriate the Rosetta Stone to Egypt.

This effort, which was launched last month, urges the Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly to officially request the object’s return, along with 16 other artifacts that were illegally and unethically removed from the country…

The British Museum, however, maintains that there has never been a formal request by the Egyptian government for the stone’s return.” – ARTnews