Infotainment

Can you crack the code?

May 14 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 5/14/2019 11:17:28 AM IST

 A French commune is offering a €2,000 (£1,750/$2,247) reward to anyone who can decipher a mysterious, 230-year old inscription carved on a rock in a remote cove.

Found roughly five years ago, the rock's engraving includes 20 lines of text in both French and Scandinavian characters, two dates and drawings of a ship and what appears to be a sacred heart. Some have suggested that the text may relate to do with the establishments of fortifications near the cove in which the rock is found. The competition is open until November and has already received thousands of submissions.

The mysteriously-inscribed rock is located in a remote cove, one only accessible when the tide goes out, near the commune of Plougastel-Daoulas, in north west France's administrative region of Brittany. 

The rock, found about five years ago and dated back to around 1789, stands at about 3 feet (1 metre) high and bears 20 lines of writing. 

'We've asked historians and archaeologists from around here, but no-one has been able to work out the story behind the rock', said Plougastel mayor, Dominique Cap.

Some of the characters carved into the rock are normal French letters depicted in reverse or upside down, while others appear to be 'Ø', which is a vowel in the Scandinavian languages of Danish, Norwegian, Faroese, and Southern Sami.

The rock features the image of a ship, complete with sails and a rudder, and what appears to be a sacred heart, a heart covered by a cross. Two apparent dates are also visible, 1786 and 1787, which would place the inscription to a few years before the onset of the French Revolution.

There are many ideas already concerning the meaning behind the inscription.  Brest is a port city that lies on the opposite side of the bay to Plougastel-Daoulas. 

Local experts think that the words might be written either in old Breton, a now-extinct language that was spoken in Northern France between the 9th and the 11th century AD, or Basque.

The individual who wrote the engraving, it has also been suggested, may have been semi-literate, meaning that the intended words may be poorly transcribed and the letters may related more to the sounds of the words as the author heard them. 

Others have suggested that the carving was engraved by a Russian soldier who had been garrisoned in the nearby fort.

The name is a reference to the French scholar, and one of the founding figures in Egyptology, Jean-François Champollion, who helped decode some of the Egyptian hieroglyphics present on the famed Rosetta Stone. 

(Ian Randall for Mailonline)

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