Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rosetta Stone Shattered

The state of TIAH

July 19th, 2006

in 1799, French Captain Pierre-Francois Bouchard, directing the removal of a large slab from the town of Rosetta, Egypt, is horrified when the crew he has employed drops and shatters the basalt wall. Since the stone had writings in Greek, Egyptian Hieroglyphics and the Egyptian Demotic script, he had thought it might be valuable to the study of Egyptian culture, and possibly earn him the favor of an important person or two back at the Parisian court. Unfortunately, the breakage made it nigh-impossible to read, and he was reduced to scooping up the pieces and sending them along to France. After decades of painstaking work, French archaeologists were finally able to reassemble the stone. Although major gaps still existed in it, they were able to use the Greek side to decipher much of the Egyptian sides. The languages were not fully deciphered until the 1920's, when more stones of a similar nature were found around ancient Egyptian sites. This caused a huge resurgence in Egyptology, including many fanciful adaptations in modern dress and architecture – even President Coolidge was seen sporting a Pharaonic Hat now and then on the streets of Washington, DC.

in 1848, the dream of Philadelphian Lucretia Mott and New Yorker Elizabeth Cady Stanton to hold a convention for women's rights comes to fruition as 200 women gather in Seneca Falls, New York to discuss the role of women in American society. Stanton read a Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances which was reminiscent of the Declaration of Independence, and the gathered body of women took up the issue of what rights women should be guaranteed by America. The most contentious right, and the only one voted down by the assembly, was the right of women to vote. Although Stanton and noted former slave Frederick Douglass both argued that this right was essential in securing all others, the cautious group felt that might be going too far. Without a call for the right to vote, the convention still drafted a petition which urged the women of America to fight for the 11 rights that the convention had agreed on. Although some of these rights, such as the right to own property in their own name and right to equal protection from the law, were granted by progressive states such as New York and the Dakotas, they were soon rescinded because women could not elect representatives to maintain them. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, now seen as a Cassandra for the women's movement, started campaigning for universal suffrage, but was a lone voice in the organization she had helped found. It wasn't until the 20th century that women's rights organizations even took up the cause of the right to vote, making America one of the last countries to grant universal suffrage when the Voting Rights Act of 1951 was finally passed.

in 1947, a fire breaks out at the office of Dr. Powell of Roswell, New Mexico. He is fairly certain the fire was a warning from the dark-suited men who had warned him off of his pursuit of the strange wreckage that was found on the Brazel ranch north of town. Fortunately, the notes he had stored in his fire-proof safe are completely unharmed. He makes several copies of them and mails them to friends he trusts across the country. Along with the notes, he encloses a personal aside saying, “I don't know how much further I'm going to be able to take this – I have to rebuild after the fire. But it is my firmest conviction that this matter should be pursued further.” All but one of these packages is intercepted and destroyed; the lone package that makes it to its intended destination arrives at the home of Martha Emmanuel of Dallas, Texas four days later.

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