Jean Francois Champollion Le Jeune, a French Egyptologist, brother of the preceding, born at Figeae, Dec. 23, 1791, died in Paris, March 4, 1832. He studied so diligently under the direction of his brother that he permanently injured his left eye. His introduction to a new geographical work on Egypt (1807) increased the reputation which previous scientific disquisitions had established for him among the eminent orientalists of Paris, under whose guidance he perfected his acquirements. He commenced his studies of hieroglyphics in 1808, discovered the 25 Egyptian letters mentioned by Plutarch, and used them so skilfully in transcribing Coptic writings, that a member of the academy published them as an Egyptian work of the Antoninian period. In 1809 he became professor at the newly established university of Grenoble, when he began to announce and partly to publish the results of his researches, which made him celebrated as the founder of Egyptology, and especially of the science of hieroglyphics. The political events of 1815 led him to retire from his chair till 1818, when he resumed for a time his lectures on history and geography.
Soon afterward he went to Paris, where he read before the academy his dissertation Sur l'ecriture hieratique et demotique, and his Analyse methodique du texte demotique de Rosette, which Sylvestre de Sacy praised as prodigious efforts of learning and genius. In 1822 he read before the academy of inscriptions his celebrated disquisition, afterward published under the title of Lettre a M. Dacier, which proved his discovery of the hieroglyphical alphabet, both Arago and De Sacy deciding in favor of Champollion's priority of discovery as against Thomas Young, whose English partisans have claimed this honor for him. His subsequent expositions of the figurative, idiographical, and alphabetical systems of hieroglyphics was published in 1824 by the French government, under the title of Precis du systeme hieroglyphique des anciens Egyp-tiens. In the same year, after examining the collection of the French consul at Turin, subsequently acquired by the king of Sardinia, he announced the discovery of the celebrated royal or chronological papyrus.
He next visited Rome and Leghorn, and his report, made at the instance of the duke de Blacas, on the Egyptological collection of Henry Salt, the English consul at the latter city, led to its acquisition by the museum of Paris. He returned to Rome, where he described the Turin collection in his Lettres a Monsieur le due de Blacas (2 vols., Paris, 1824-'6); and successfully applying his system to the interpretation of the monuments at Naples and Florence, he prepared the catalogues of the royal collection. Pope Leo XII. requested him to prepare a new work relating to the obelisks of Rome, but of this only the designs were published, the Latin work on this subject brought out in 1842 being spurious. Soon after the establishment of the Egyptian museum at the Louvre (182(5) he became its director and lecturer, and his classification was adopted in other museums of the kind. He exposed the fallacies of Klaproth and other savants, and summed up in 1827 the result of previous investigations in his Apercu des resultats his-toriques de la decowcerte de l'alphaoet hiero-glyphique. Charles X. gave him the entry to his court by appointing him officer of the royal household, placed a frigate with seven draughtsmen and an architect at his disposal for the exploration of Egypt and Nubia (1827-'30), and in 1831, after the accession of Louis Philippe, the chair of Egyptian archaeology was created for him at the college de France. He retired to a country seat to compose his Gram-muire egyptienne (1836-41), which became a standard work for that science, and his Dic-tionnaire egyptien (1842-'4). The letters to his brother during his Egyptian journey were published in 1835. He proposed to make his persona] observations the basis of a comprehensive work, but lived only to publish the prospectus.
After an attack of apoplexy at the close of 1831, he foresaw his speedy end. and employing January and February of 1832 in revising his Egyptian grammar, he handed the work to his brother, saying that he hoped posterity would accept it as his visiting card. His death was mourned not only on account of his labors, which, as Chateaubriand said, "will be remembered as long as the immortal monuments which they revealed," but also on account of his great virtues. A monument was erected to him at Figeac, with inscriptions prepared by the institute. His bust was placed in the museum of Versailles, and copies of it were executed for the towns of Figeac and Grenoble; and his memory is perpetuated by an inscription in the royal museum of Turin. His MSS. were purchased by the French government, and edited under the supervision of his brother (1834-'48). After his death appeared Monuments de l'Egypte et de la Nubie (4 vols. 4to, 1835, with 400 folio plates); Memoires sur les signes employes par les anciens Egyptiens a la notation des divisions du temps (1841); and fragments of Notices descriptives (1844).