Archives Charmet/Bridgeman Art Library

“I, who was the late Mister Champonion’s concierge, am gonna explain the nierogrifes on this obelisse. So first, their king was a loafer. ‘M’ stands for Zostri-le-Moigneau, that was their god … Up there, that was their omnibus … and the rest is baloney.” Thus Champollion’s maid explains the meaning of the hieroglyphs to her admiring friend. This cartoon was produced in 1831, not long after an obelisk from Luxor, Egypt, was erected at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.