Why Napoleon’s troops shooting the nose off the Sphinx with artillery in 1799 was a good thing

Hi readers.

A lot of you probably think the world would have been just as good a place if Napoleon’s troops hadn’t shot the nose off the Sphinx practicing with artillery in 1799.  You might even think if they’d just stayed home in France and shot the noses off every Frenchman they could catch the world would be better off?

In the interest of science, Napoleon's troops couldn't know what would happen up there without shooting some artillery at it to find out.  Same as Hiroshima and Nagasaki later on.  Theories are worthless unless they're tested.

In the interest of science, Napoleon’s troops couldn’t know what would happen up there without shooting some artillery at it to find out. Same as Hiroshima and Nagasaki later on. Theories are worthless unless they’re tested.

Well, you’d be wrong.  Napoleon’s troops did just the right thing blowing off the nose of Sphinx.

Keep in mind, these were Frenchmen.  All they knew how to do at that point was try to take the heads off whatever got in the way.  But they saved the Sphinx.  If they'd left it alone until the British took over in 1802 the Sphinx would be in London.  Housed in a wonder-of-the-world-sized British Museum.  Same as everything else the British could haul off from every country they ever conquered.

Keep in mind, these were Frenchmen. All they knew how to do at that point was try to take the heads off whatever got in the way. But they saved the Sphinx. If they’d left it alone until the British took over in 1802 the Sphinx would be in London. Housed in a wonder-of-the-world-sized British Museum. Same as everything else the British could haul off from every country they ever conquered.

Once Napoleon’s troops finished nobody every had to do it again.  Anyone with half-an-eye could see what would happen if you shot the Sphinx in the nose with a piece of 1799 field artillery. 

And most importantly, Sphinx was flawed.  By 1802 when the British took Egypt they’d become selective, only stealing the most perfect artifacts.  Sphinx got to stay home in Egypt because of French artillery practice.

Which didn’t happen to the Rosetta Stone, which French troops found and got taken away from them by the British.

From the time Cleopatra offed herself with that adder, shortly thereafter, nobody knew how to read Egyptian hieroglyphs.  But thanks to those French troops, someone decided to steal the Rosetta Stone.

The Rosetta Stone is in the British Museum in London today.  It's been there since shortly after British officials stole it in 1802.  Most likely it will continue to reside in the British Museum until US troops have finished whatever they're doing in Europe.  When we finally bring the troops home from WWII the final act will be to drop the 8th Army into London, take over Heathrow Airport, and bring the Rosetta Stone and everything else in the British Museum to the United States where it rightfully belongs.

The Rosetta Stone is in the British Museum in London today. It’s been there since shortly after British officials stole it in 1802. Most likely it will continue to reside in the British Museum until US troops have finished whatever they’re doing in Europe. When we finally bring the troops home from WWII the final act will be to drop the 8th Army into London, take over Heathrow Airport, and bring the Rosetta Stone and everything else in the British Museum to the United States where it rightfully belongs.

Created 196 BC
Discovered 1799
Present location British Museum

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 portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek. Because it presents essentially the same text in all three scripts (with some minor differences among them), it provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_Stone

When the contents of the British Museum finally are transported to the Smithsonian in Washington DC the British Empire will finally be a footnote of history, along with Napoleon, the Egyptians, and other backward peoples everywhere.

Old Jules

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2 responses to “Why Napoleon’s troops shooting the nose off the Sphinx with artillery in 1799 was a good thing

  1. I think the odds are good many of those artifacts will go back to their native lands, rather than to the Smithsonian. Things do improve, from time to time.

    Once arranged research credentials for a friend to do some research at the British Museum. I accompanied him on the trip, and we had to check in — got there about the time the museum was ready to close. Scholar office was open a little later, in a little room out of the way . . .

    While Dr. Buffington presented credentials and got us ID cards, I snooped around the room. There, in a glass case, was one of the remaining copies of the Magna Carta, not on display generally. My heart raced, and as happens then, my hands started to perspire profusely. Some guy in a suit stepped up and asked, “Sir, would you like to examine the document out of the case?” I had a quick vision of perspiration from my hands staining a 1,500-year old document.

    “No, thank you.”

    “It would be no problem. Let me get you some gloves.” I had a vision of the trial, where they held up perspiration-stained, white cotton gloves as evidence I had marred one of England’s great treasures.

    “No, thank you, it isn’t on our research agenda.”

    The same solicitous man accompanied us through the museum when we were done, lights out, mostly. We passed the Rosetta stone, and I paused to look at it. “You can’t examine that, but let me get the lights,” he said.

    And there for what seemed like an hour, but couldn’t have been more than 20 minutes, one of the geniuses at the British Museum gave us the full history and pointed out every nick and ding, a grand tour worth a million dollars. Just the three of us in front of an object millions come to see in crowds.

    We stepped out into a cold and snowy London. I appreciated the climate-control that preserved even a stone in the British Museum.

    • Hi Ed: Not much doubt they’re fine people running the place. It’s one of the few reasons I could possible talk myself into ever setting foot in London again instead of jumping off a bridge. That war Museum at Bedlam’s another, I reckons. Jack

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