philology

At the Beginning was a Bet – Georg Friedrich Grotefend and the Cuneiform

At the Beginning was a Bet – Georg Friedrich Grotefend and the Cuneiform

On June 9, 1775, German epigraphist and philologist Georg Friedrich Grotefend was born. Although most of you will probably never heard of him, he is well known for his contributions toward the decipherment of cuneiform. Do you know Cuneiform? Do you know cuneiform? It is the name of the old writing of Mesopotamia and its roots date back to the time of the origins of civilization, when also Egyptian hieroglyphs were invented. But,…
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Karl Richard Lepsius – A Pioneer in Modern Archaeology

Karl Richard Lepsius – A Pioneer in Modern Archaeology

On July 10 1884, Prussian egyptologist and linguist Karl Richard Lepsius passed away. Lepsius is regarded as one of the founding fathers of scientific methods in archaeology. His plans, maps and drawings of tomb and temple walls are of high accuracy and reliability. In 1866 he found found the Canopus decree at Tanis. Being written in two languages, it was a valuable cross-reference for the prior interpretation of the Rosetta stone by Champollion.…
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The Native American studies of Horatio Hale

The Native American studies of Horatio Hale

On May 3, 1817, American-Canadian ethnologist, philologist and businessman Horatio Hale was born. Hale studied language as a key for classifying ancient peoples and being able to trace their migrations. He was the first to discover that the Tutelo language of Virginia belonged to the Siouan family, and to identify the Cherokee language as a member of the Iroquoian family of languages. Horatio Hale attended Harvard College and in 1834, he published…
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Heinrich Karl Brugsch and the Decipherment of Demotic Script

Heinrich Karl Brugsch and the Decipherment of Demotic Script

On February 18, 1827, German egyptologist Heinrich Karl Brugsch was born. Brugsch was associated with Auguste Mariette in his excavations at Memphis and pioneered in the decipherment of Demotic, the simplified script of the later Egyptian periods. He also recognized the Semitic side of Egyptian grammar, thus enabling a far more comprehensive and systematic understanding of hieroglyphs. Self-taught Studies in Egyptology Heinrich Karl Brugsch was born in Berlin, Germany, as the son…
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Henry Rawlinson and the Mesopotamian Cuneiform

Henry Rawlinson and the Mesopotamian Cuneiform

On April 11, 1810, British East India Company army officer, politician and Orientalist Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson was born. As an army officer, became interested in antiquities after his assignment to reorganize the Persian army. He accomplished the translation of the Old Persian portion of the trilingual mutilingual cuneiform inscription of Darius I on the hillside at Behistun, Iran, which provided the key to the deciphering of Mesopotamian cuneiform script. Rawlinson was…
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The Expeditions of John Wesley Powell

The Expeditions of John Wesley Powell

On March 24, 1834, American geologist and ethnologist John Wesley Powell was born. He published the first classification of American Indian languages and was the first director of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology. He is famous for the 1869 Powell Geographic Expedition, a three-month river trip down the Green and Colorado rivers, including the first known passage through the Grand Canyon. John Powell was born in Mount Morris, New York, in 1834. His…
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The World according to Sebastian Münster

The World according to Sebastian Münster

On January 20, 1488, German cartographer, cosmographer, and a Christian Hebraist scholar Sebastian Münster was born. His work, the Cosmographia from 1544, was the earliest German description of the world. In (Western) Germany, he is best known for his portrait on the former German 100 DM banknote – of course only to people who are old enough to remember the old Deutsche Mark banknotes (valid from 1962-1991). Youth and Education Sebastian Münster was…
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