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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

My Rosetta Stone

UNITED KINGDOM | Tuesday, 12 April 2011 | Views [2122]

It may be a long way from being the real thing, but my own wooden Rosetta Stone is here with me in the British Museum, right in front of the plexiglass that protects the real Stone! The real Rosetta Stone is thousands of years old and used as the key to deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and is one of the world's oldest artefacts.

My Rosetta Stone is one of my oldest possessions: dating back to year 6 of secondary school! That was 15 years ago! In many of my previous stories I've mentioned Mr. Hanley. He was my history and geography teacher at the time, and I had to make a project for the Ancient Egypt lesson in my class. He showed us slides of previous projects, such as a Sphinx made of Styrofoam and a shadoof made of cardboard and a bottle cap. He did have one strict rule: you can make anything related to Ancient Egypt except for a pyramid. At the time I was not a very responsible student, despite the fact that everyone marvels (yes, they still do) that I'm extremely brilliant, I waited until the last minute to come up with an idea and start the project. Later that night, my father and I got a piece of wood and some black and white paint, and then he got out his Dremel. He has over 40 years of capentry and building experience, so he knows how to create just about anything. Using the Dremel, a chisel, a pencil, my (very) limited knowledge of Greek, Demotic, and Hieroglyphic writing, and my father's expertise, my Rosetta Stone was coming alive! With the wood now shaped like the Stone, I then painted it to look like the real thing (even though there is far less writing and it's a lot smaller. After several hours of pain-staking work (literally, because my father cut his finger badly with the chisel) my Stone was ready for presentation the next day. Walking into class, stone in hand, Mr. Hanley gasped "WOW, that's the best project I've ever seen since 1967" and it put a lot of confidence into me. He liked my stone so much that he asked if he could keep it. As much as I wanted to keep it, I let him keep it. Two years later, and after being a consecutive state-finalist in the National Geographic Bee, I became his teacher's assistant and I always proudly showed off my Rosetta Stone to the class whenever Egypt was mentioned. Mr. Hanley, after teaching at the same school for 38 years, decided to retire in 2004. My Rosetta Stone was nearly lost forever! He decided to give away most of the stuff he had saved over the years, and when I went to visit him on his final day I asked about my stone and he said he gave it away to another teacher. In shock I said "you gave it away! I want to take it home with me!" Whilst the stone would be beneficial in the teaching of another class, it's something I worked very hard on and wanted to keep. In a race agsinst time I got the stone back shortly thereafter. Whew! Now safe and sound, my Rosetta Stone went home with me that day. Mr. Hanley and I are still very good friends and he regards me as his best student in his entire 38 years of teaching, and in his words, I put the school "on the map." 

Fast-forward to today, nearly seven years after Mr. Hanley retired. When I planned to visit Maria (lovely lady) I realized that the big thing I really missed on my first trip to London is the British Museum; home to the Stone. As I was packing, I decided that my Rosetta Stone is going with me across the Atlantic so I could be in front of the real Stone with my stone. Upon setting out this morning, I saw Maria off to work and then, stone in hand, set off into that Greek facade called the British Museum. Within five minutes I was in front of the real Rosetta Stone! There are crowds all around, and I had to sort of bully my way in to get a photo with my stone and the real Stone. 

My stone is here with me, and now I've seen the real thing. Rosetta Stones unite!

Tags: mementos, museums

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