Fragment: Icons from Antiquity by Anna-Maryke, Welcome Rain Publishers

One step in Champollion’s decipherment involved his reading of a cartouche—a cluster of signs encircled by an oval, indicating a royal name—from the 13th-century B.C. temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel. (Ramesses’s cartouche is visible immediately to the right of the small, left-most statue at the foot of the colossi.) Realizing that the writing in the cartouche consists of both ideograms (signs denoting things) and phonetic signs, he was able to make out the name “Ramesses.”