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de vic’es, curious marks or shapes.
in scrip’tion, any thing cut or written on a solid substance.
trans lat’ing, expressing in another language.
mem’o ra ble, worthy of being remembered.
spec’i mens, small portions of things.
in ge nu’i ty, skill in inventing.
tour’ists, travelers; sight-seers.
ded’i cat ed, set apart for a special purpose.
cer’e mo nies, forms; special customs.
site, the place where any thing is fixed.
mon’o lith, a column consisting of a single stone.
o rig’i nal ly, in the first place.
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The ancient Egyptians erected many obelisks in various parts of their country. These were monuments made from single pieces of hard stone, and in some cases reached a height of more than a hundred feet.
They were placed before gateways leading to the principal temples and palaces, and were covered with curious carvings in the stone, which represented the language of the people at that time.
It thus appears that their written language was not composed of letters and words alone, like our own; but that they used pictures of animals, including birds, human figures, and other devices of a singular nature, to express their thoughts and ideas.
Until the year 1799, it was impossible for the scholars of modern nations to read this strange language. In that year, however, a stone tablet was discovered by a French engineer, containing an inscription written in three languages.
One of these was in the characters of the ancient Egyptian and another in those of the Greek. Upon translating the Greek writing, it was discovered to be a copy of the inscription in the Egyptian language.
By comparing the words of these inscriptions with many others, the formation of this peculiar language was ascertained. It was then learned that the inscriptions on these obelisks were the records of memorable events, and the heroic deeds of their kings and heroes.
Many of these obelisks have been taken from their positions in Egypt and transported with great labor to other countries. Nearly two thousand years ago the Roman emperors began to carry them to the city of Rome. Altogether, nearly fifty of these remarkable monuments were taken away and set up in that city. They were then, as now, regarded as curious examples of the ingenuity of the ancients who first made them.
[Illustration: The Obelisk in Central Park, New York, and as it appeared in Egypt.]