The Ancient Egyptians developed a system of writing that used symbols or pictures known as hieroglyphs as their form of writing. There were over a thousand such symbols, often incorporating pictures of animals and objects.
This system of writing was in use as early as 3200 BC and was used extensively on the walls of burial tombs and other monuments built by the Egyptians in the centuries that followed.
However, it was unknown what these hieroglyphs meant for many centuries. Then in 1799, the armies of the French general, Napoleon Bonaparte, discovered a huge stone tablet in Egypt that translated the hieroglyphs into Greek. Soon, experts were able to decipher the hieroglyphic alphabet. The Rosetta Stone, as the tablet was called, was therefore key to understanding what the hieroglyphs on tombs all over Egypt meant.