Jean-François Champollion Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Jean-François Champollion

Birthday :

December 23, 1790

Died On :

March 4, 1832

Also Known For :

French Scholar

Birth Place :

Figeac, Occitanie, France

Zodiac Sign :


Jean-Francois came to rule the 19th-century world with his philosophical themes and orientalism. Although he called it quit over a decade ago, he is still known as the possessor of linguistics, history and written records. He interpreted Egyptian syllabuses and sounds (hieroglyphs) as well as learning to use the Rosetta stone. In short, he played a vital role in the creation of Egyptology. A mastermind at heart, Jean devoted his whole life to nothing else than the art of languages. Before tapping his middle age, he knew how to write and speak in Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Persian, Chaldean and Coptic. Let’s see if he was able to achieve the unachievable in the field of linguistics. 

Childhood And Early Life

On 23rd December a duo: Jean-Francoise Gualieu and Jacques Champollion were blessed with their seventh born. The last born child was none other than Jean-Francois Champollion aka the young or Champollion le Jeune. His older brother, Jacques-Joseph took care of him and in the process; he guided him to the right path. He and his brother had a close bond that gave Jean a chance to know how to read and write. He was lucky to have a supportive sibling. He then joined an Abbe Dessert School for his early education. While still learning the ropes of education, his brilliance for linguistics became notable. Not only did he learn Greek and Latin but he also triumphed over other languages such as Syriac, Hebrew as well as Chaldean.

Jean-Francois’s knack in Ancient Egypt raised him to fame when a French Physicist called Joseph Fourier noticed him. He got interested in his talent where he invited the young lad to his home. It was there that Joseph took the time to show Champollion his unique artifacts and Egyptian documents. Jean was influenced positively by Fourier’s work where he vowed to read and write a stylized syllable called hieroglyphs. Early in 1804, Jean-Francois joined Lycee in Southern Eastern France. He studied various Egyptian groups such as Coptic. After two years he sent his first essay titled Geography Description of Egypt before the fraternity of Grenoble. They were happy to have Champollion as a student in their school.



Early in 1807 Jean-Francois went to Paris to further his studies. It was there that he met Raphael de Monachis and Louis-Mathieu Langles. He found himself shifting from one college to the next including the College of France and Special School of Oriental Languages. He later went to the National Library and Commission of Egyptian expedition.
Champollion zeal to study the Rosetta stone made him to self-learn alone. It was in the same demeanor that he came up with Rosetta’s stone replica with the help of Abbe de Tersan. During his discovery, he realized that Johan David Akerblad also took part in writing the said stone.

In 1810, Jean-Francois went back to Grenoble where he was selected as the professor of Ancient History at Grenoble University. In the mid of 1803s Napoleonic Wars, Jean found himself in the army but he later escaped, all thanks to his brother. They both partnered together where the opened their own school. It was there that he educated the public about his discoveries.

In 1822 Champollion took the time to summarize his short notes on Egyptian Linguistics which he called Lettre à M. Dacier. He followed it up with another line of argument called Precis in 1824 that fully illustrated the hieroglyph details. The book acted as a wake-up call for other Philologists. For three years, he went to Egypt where he surveyed his native’s land history and monuments. In the process, he read more Ancient Egyptian writings that he never came across or seen. Afterwards, he returned to his native land where he was appointed as the Professor of Egyptology. After several years, he called it quit due to his health.


Personal Life And Legacy

In 1818 Jean-Francois married Rosine Blanc with whom he had a daughter called Zoraide. Afterward, he had a romantic relation with an Italian poet, Angelica Palli, but they parted ways after some time. Since his midlife, Champollion suffered from an illness like tinnitus and gout. His health continued to weaken when he went to Paris due to climate change and poor living condition. He died in 1832 due to a heart attack in Paris. It was reported that exhaustion and intense mental effort led to the attack. His final work was called the Egyptian grammar and dictionary that was published by his beloved brother, Joseph.

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