JEAN FRANÇOIS CHAMPOLLION (1790-1832), one of the earliest and most distinguished of Egyptologists, called le Jeune to distinguish him from Champollion-Figeac, his elder brother, was born at Figeac, in the department of Lot, in 1790. He was educated by his brother Champollion-Figeac, professor of Greek at Grenoble, and was then appointed government pupil at the Lyceum, which had recently been founded. His first work was an attempt to show by means of their names that the giants of the Bible were personifications of natural phenomena. At the age of sixteen (1807) he read before the academy of Grenoble a paper in which he maintained that the Coptic was the ancient language of Egypt. He soon after removed to Paris, where he enjoyed the friendship of Langlès, De Sacy, and Millin. Champollion's wonderful acuteness is best displayed by his interpretation of the Rosetta stone, in regard to which there was keen discussion as to the share Dr Young and he respectively had in the discoveries. In 1809 he was made professor of history in the Lyceum of Grenoble, and there published his earlier works. He was sent by Charles X., in 1824, to visit the collections of Egyptian antiquities in the museums of Turin, Leghorn, Rome, and Naples ; and on his return he was appointed director of the Egyptian museum at the Louvre. In 1828 he was commissioned to undertake the conduct of a scientific expedition to Egypt in company with Rosellini, who had received a similar appointment from Leopold II., Grand Duke of Tuscany. He remained there about a year. In March 1831, he received the chair of Egyptian Antiquities, which had been created specially for himself, in the College de France. He was engaged with Rosellini in publishing the results of Egyptian researches at the expense of the Tuscan and French Governments, when he was seized with a paralytic disorder, and died at Paris in 1832.
He wrote L'Egypte sous les Pharaons, 2 vols. 8vo, 1814; Sur l'écriture hiératique, 1821 ; Sur l'écriture démotique ; Précis du système hiéroglyphique, die., 1824 ; Panthéon égyptien, ou collection des personnages mythologiques de l'ancienne Egypte (incomplete) ; Monu-mens de l'Egypte et de la Nubie considérés par rapport à l'histoire, la religion, &c; Grammaire égyptienne, 1836, edited by his brother ; Dictionnaire hiéroglyphique; Grammaire copte and Dictionnaire copte (not printed) ; Analyse méthodique du texte démotique de Rosette; Aperçu du résultats historiques de la découverte de l'alphabet hiéro-glyphique (1827); Mémoires sur les signes employés par les Égyptiens dans leurs trois systèmes graphiques et la notation des principales divi-sions du temps; Lettres écrites d'Egypte et de Nubie (1833); and also several letters on Egyptian subjects, addressed at different periods to the Duke de Blacas and others.