Brandis, Johann

Brandis, Johann a German antiquarian, was born in 1830, at Bonn, where he also completed his studies. Attracted by a prize offered by the university for the best essay "On the statements of ancient writers on Assyria, compared with the recent discoveries of Botta and Layard," he devoted himself with great ardor to the study of Assyrian antiquities. He gained the prize-at least half of it and published his essay under the title of Assyriarum Rerum Tempora Emendata, in 1852. He then went to Berlin, partly to teach at one of the gymnasia, partly to attend lectures in the university. From there he went, in 1854, to London, as private secretary to Bunsen, who was then finishing the last volumes of his work on Egypt, and wanted the assistance of a young scholar to collect for him the newly-discovered materials for settling the chronology of Babylon and Assyria. Though Bunsen's recall, in June, 1854, put an end to this engagement, Brandis had during his short stay in London derived great advantage both from his intercourse with English scholars, and from a study of the original monuments of Assyria in the British Museum. The fruits of these researches were published in 1856, in his work on The Historical Results of the Decipherment of the Assyrian Inscriptions, the. first attempt of a German scholar at showing the solid character of the discoveries made by Rawlinson and others, in the study of the Assyrian cuneiform language and literature. Brandis then established himself at Bonn as a privat-docent. In 1857 he published an academic programme, De Temporum Graecorum Antiquissinorum Rationibus, an essay which Curtius considered of permanent value, as establishing for the first time the origin of the lists of the ancient kings of Greece from local traditions kept up in different Greek towns. At that time he was appointed private secretary to the princess of Prussia, and all his leisure he now devoted to a careful examination of the influence which Assyrian civilization had exercised on Asia and Europe. The result of his researches he laid down in his great work on measures, weights, and coins, Das Munz-, Mass- und Gewichtswesen in Vorderasien (Berlin, 1866), a work which, as he said himself, attracted more attention in England than in Germany, and secured to him, once for all, a respected position among scholars and antiquaries. More than five thousand coins are carefully described in that book, and this alone would secure to it a permanent value. He hoped to follow up the history of these early arts from Asia and the isles to the continent of Greece, and while engaged in these researches, the discovery of the Cyprian inscriptions — or, rather, of the first bilingual Cypro-Phoenician inscription — at once roused his liveliest interest. Brandis came to England in 1873, and he saw at once that the spell of the Cyprian inscriptions had been broken by the clever guesses of Smith and Birch. They had established the value of thirty-three letters, they had proved that the language of the inscriptions was Greek. Brandis carried on their work, and in the paper published after his death in the Monatsberichte of the Berlin Academy, he fixed the value of the remaining letters, he showed the peculiar character of the Greek dialect spoken in Cyprus, and by a translation of the large inscription of Idalion, he proved that it contained a lease between a landlord and a farmer, fixing the amount of corn which the farmer was to retain for himself. Soon after his return to Germany; he died at Linz, July 8, 1873. See Curtius, Johannes Brandis. Ein Lebensbild (Berlin, 1873). (B.P.)

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