As a child Jean-Francois Champollion had but one fervent wish - to travel to Egypt and solve the mystery of the ancient hieroglyphs. Finally, a brief lull in the Mediterranean war against the Ottoman Sultan offered his expedition a window of a few days in 1828 to disembark. Egypt proved a treacherous place, and not only because it was part of the Ottoman Empire. Champollion's secret diary entries vividly chronicle the dangers, his exhilarated enthusiasm for the subjugated country, and not least the remarkable discoveries that were to found the new science of Egyptology. Of the twelve expedition members only a few survived its hardships. Champollion accomplished his dream, but he, too, paid the price when he died at the age of 41.