Elizabeth Frood

The tug of war over the Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is the icon of decipherment. As one of the most popular objects in the British Museum, its irregular shape and the once white-on-black of its three scripts — hieroglyphic, demotic, Greek — are distinctive enough to sell countless socks, keyrings and nail files in the museum shop. The stone’s marketable popularity testifies

A beautiful enigma

Often dubbed the Mona Lisa of the ancient world, the bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti is as immediately recognisable as the pyramids and the Rosetta Stone. Yet almost everything about this sculpture is mysterious at best, or bitterly controversial at worst, from the context of its creation to questions surrounding its acquisition by the