Rosetta (or Rashid) is situated in the northwestern Nile Delta on the left bank of the Rosetta branch of the Nile. Formerly an important port and trading centre it declined in importance after the 18th century with the rise of the city of Alexandria. It is widely known as the location of the famous Rosetta Stone. This ancient irregular stone, discovered north of Rosetta by Napoleonic troops in 1799 provided the key for scholars, led by Thomas Young and Jean-François Champollion, to decipher hieroglyphic writing for the first time.
At first this extraordinary daguerreotype reads as an unusual street scene with the distant minaret on the left and a partially demolished building on the right. On closer inspection, the right half is another image entirely, correctly seen, although still enigmatic, when the plate is turned through 180 degrees. The view with the minaret can be easily recognised as the same scene depicted in plate 88 of Monuments Arabes d'Egypte, de Syrie et d'Asie Mineure. (see illustration) The word publiée on his title label suggests that Girault de Prangey did use this daguerreotype as the basis of this print.
There are four whole-plate daguerreotypes from Rosetta in the artist's archive, each of a different subject. This is the only street scene and the only double panorama.