Pierre Francois-Xavier Bouchards, a member of Napoleon's army discovered it. It was later brought to England (in 1802).
The back of the basalt stone is less finished than the other surfaces. It is thought that the stone was propped against a wall. The text says the stela was to be put in a temple near the statue of Ptolemy.
The Egyptian hieroglyphic portion is thought to have originally contained 29 lines, but more than half of it has been lost. None of the inscriptions have word breaks which added to the difficulties in breaking the code. By the 4th century A.D., people no longer knew how to read hieroglyphs.