Sunday, February 17, 2013 In Shutlogue | trackback


Assembling the Rosetta Stone jigsaw puzzle

Jigsaw puzzles have always been my greatest distraction remedy. When pressure at work is low, my brain wanders out of leash. The only way to get hold of it again is to keep it involuntarily busy. Reading a book, working on a pro-bono project, or learning a new language does not work, because of the lack of a precise deadline. I’ve just read on Wikipedia that

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, doing jigsaw puzzles is one of many activities that can help keep the brain active and may contribute to reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

High-five! I have just recently put together a very challenging puzzle of the Rosetta stone, and here how I finally did it.

Rosetta Jigsaw


When I first opened the box and unpacked the pieces I was shocked! They all had the same color and texture. A great puzzle is a puzzle that is not impossible to deter puzzlers away, nor so simple it turns off the serious ones. There is a balance. Jigsaw puzzles come in different variations: small or large pieces, rounded, fully locked or loose, all-edge pieces, spherical, three-dimensional, all-uniform pieces, non-uniform edges, and I have even found out about a puzzle that has no image printed!

Picture-less Jigsaw

The images that are printed on it (if any!) are also part of the challenge. They can be natural scenes (with a combination of complex and flat areas), black-and-white, visual illusions, logically deduced, or all of that, or non of it! But the trick is that the designer always leaves a trail behind, if it turns too challenging it could be boring to solve. If, for example, it is a black-and-white puzzle, the pieces are cut in a way you can tell their orientation immediately. Of course they don’t state that on the box, you have to figure it out yourself. And I have assembled one of those.

If there is no reference image on the box (like CSI puzzles), they come with a story, and they are normally not too flat photos. A flat photo is like blue skies, or uniform colored, that would be the hardest part of the puzzle, so you usually leave till last. A complex photo has variations of details on the same piece enough for you to guess where they fit. Those are the easiest.

I once assembled a Mosaic puzzle, that formed the shape of the globe with night fall around it. Every piece had a combination of small images put together, even the dark skies had enough details, it was fairly easy, and fun to assemble.

A pyramid shaped puzzle was a bit loose on the edges, and the pieces looked alike. But the trick was a small symbol on every row of the pyramid structure to tell you what pieces should be placed on that row. Again, it wasn’t boring, nor hard.

This Rosetta stone one; had the same color and texture on all pieces, hardly distinguished details, non-uniform edges (some internal pieces were mistaken for edge pieces), did not follow a rule for orientation, and the reference images was hard to read (it was useless!). It was so daunting at one point I felt like ditching it all together.


Rosetta Egyptian Text The Rosetta stone has three parts, ancient Egyptian, Demotic, and Greek. The hieroglyphic section is the narrowest and easiest to assemble. So I started there. I searched the net up and down in search for the exact image of the text, and found just one reference (pretty amazing how no one cared to put an image like this online!) Here it is: Rosetta Stone Hieroglyphic section.

It was fun matching the text on the piece with the actual content of the image, it was not exact, and I had to learn some of the possible variations of hieroglyphs. I learnt that this language is actually phonetic. And the text on the Rosetta stone is actually Greek.

The Ancient Greek part was also fun to assemble, once I gathered the pieces and decided their orientation, I looked up on the net for the actual text, and found this: The Greek script of the Rosetta stone. You have no idea how fun it was to put this section together, I think I picked up some of the words already, like

Tricks and tips: Ancient Greek did not have spaces between words, some letters where written differently back then, and you have to watch out for misspelling in the Rosetta script (19 misspells listed at the end of the document, wonder what happened to the poor dude who engraved it when Cleopatra found out!). I also picked up how to pronounce Greek letters, though I must admit I had previous training as an Electrical Engineering student.

That left the Demotic section. I could not find any reference to the actual script or a clear image of it. I just found a dictionary of Demotic language, oh boy! The things some people do when they run out of Star Trek episodes to watch! Eventually I got so bored, I just laid out the pieces with the “possible” orientation, and with individual trial an error I put it together. It took a while, it was boring, and I made a lot of mistakes. I was so frustrated some times I promised myself I was going to put it apart once I was done with it!

But of course, there is no sense of achievement more overwhelming and complete, than that you get when you finish a Jigsaw puzzle. Doesn’t prolong, but condensed.

Funny fact, next day after I put it together, I found a mistake, two pieces in place of each other! Go figure!

  • Emad

    You left me on those letters…observing…and imagining the people of those times!
    Life is reeaaallly strange and interesting! subhanallah!

  • elmota

    I sometimes wonder how did the egyptian empire survive for so long with such a dumb language! I spent few weeks with it, believe me it’s dumb 🙂

  • blackcat

    i just opened the same puzzle today. . and my first reac
    tion was OMG.

  • justin

    Well done! I saw the puzzle today at a museum exhibition and it looked like quite a challenge! Thanks for the tips.


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