Learning to Like Fleas (or Their Markets!)

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Well, let me make a confession that some guys just wouldn’t make. But first, let me say that I don’t enjoy shopping unless I’m at Fry’s Electronics or if I’m shopping for some “man stuff” like electronic gizmos. Oh, I guess there are other exceptions, too: I like to shop for something for my wife, kids or grand kids.  There you have it.

Here’s the confession: I’m learning to like flea markets!  No, not because I think that they are fun in and of themselves, but I like them because the provide some interesting photo opportunities, and sometimes, interesting people.

There is a very large flea market on the third weekend of each month.  I couldn’t BEGIN to estimate how many booths there are (some inside, some outside), but there were many!  There was even one vendor there who had artifacts from the time of the VIkings, Romans, and others.  Perhaps the neatest thing he had was a Danish stone dagger that was hand crafted that dated back to 1800 BC.  It was in great condition and someone in the UK who was a collector had built a box out of gorgeous wood that was even older than the dagger itself.  I asked about how much the dagger cost, and he said without a hint of joking: “About as much as a car.”  I told him that I just didn’t happen to have that much cash on me at the moment, and he laughed!  I think I’d have enjoyed knowing him more.

But today’s photo isn’t of the dagger (for some reason I didn’t even take a picture of it!!!), but of something that caught my eye because it was so beautiful and color full. My wife could tell you what this is called, (something Rose….), but I called it a photo opportunity.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1799, during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovered a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria. The irregularly shaped stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. The ancient Greek on the Rosetta Stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed by priests honoring the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, in the second century B.C. More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly 2,000 years.

When Napoleon, an emperor known for his high view of education, art and culture, invaded Egypt in 1798, he took along a group of scholars and told them to seize all important cultural artifacts for France. Pierre Bouchard, one of Napoleon’s soldiers, knew of this order when he found the stone, which was almost four feet long and two-and-a-half feet wide. When the British defeated Napoleon in 1801, they took possession of the Rosetta Stone.

Several scholars, including Englishman Thomas Young made progress with the initial hieroglyphics analysis of the Rosetta Stone. French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832), who had taught himself ancient languages, ultimately cracked the code and deciphered the hieroglyphics using his knowledge of Greek as a guide. Hieroglyphics used pictures to represent objects, sounds and groups of sounds. Once the Rosetta Stone inscriptions were translated, the language and culture of ancient Egypt was suddenly open to scientists as never before.

The Rosetta Stone has been housed at the British Museum in London since 1802, except for a brief period during World War I. At that time, museum officials moved it to a separate underground location, along with other irreplaceable items from the museum’s collection, to protect it from the threat of bombs.

When I saw the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum, I almost passed out!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Enough sunlight reaches the earth’s surface each minute to satisfy the world’s energy demands—for an entire year.

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