Lepsius, Karl Richard

Lepsius, Karl Richard a noted German Egyptologist, was born at Naumburg, December 23, 1810. Well prepared by seven years of classical training at Pforta, he went in 1829 to Leipsic and Gottingen to study philology. When he took his degree, he showed at once by his dissertation that he knew how best to utilize the principles of comparative philology by applying them to the solution of difficult problems of classical scholarship. He took for his subject the Umbrian Inscriptions, and thus laid the foundation of what has proved in the end one of the most successful achievements of the science of language — namely, the decipherment and grammatical analysis of the Eugubian tables. In 1833 he went to, Paris to attend lectures, and study in libraries and museums. In 1834 he published Palaographie als Mittel fur die Sprachforschung, for which was awarded by the French Institute the Prix Volney. In 1835 another essay of his, Ueber die Anordnung und Verwandtschaft des semitischen, indischen, athiopischen, altpersischen

zund altegyptischen Alphabets, was read before the Berlin Academy; and in the same year. while still at Paris, he wrote his paper, Ueber den Ursprung und die Verwandtschaft der Zanhlworter in der indogermanischen, semitischen, und der koptischen Spraache. At the time of his residence at Paris. Champollion's star was just rising, but Egyptian studies were only in their infancy. Lepsius felt attracted towards these new studies. Having acquired the first principles of the decipherment of hieroglyphs from Champollion's works, he proceeded from Paris to Italy, which was rich in Egyptian antiquities. He spent some time with Rosellini, at Pisa, and then settled down to steady work at Rome. Here he was attracted by Bunsen, who did everything he could for him. By his Lettre a M. Rosellini sur l' Alphabet Hyroglyphique (1837), Lepsius took his position as one of the leading Egyptologists of the day, and thus entered upon a career which he never left again. But, although Egypt formed the principal object of his studies, his classical tastes, too, found ample food in Italy, as was shown by his edition of the Inscriptiones Umbricae et Oscae (Leipsic, 1841), and by his papers on Die Tyarrheneschen Pelasger in Etrurien (1842). From Italy he went to England, where he spent two years studying in the British Museum, and shaping plans for future work. In 1842 we find Lepsius established as professor at Berlin. In the meantime he had published some of his bestknown works — his Auswahl der wichtigsten Urkunden des agyptischen Alterthums (1842, fol. with 23 tables), and Das Todtenbuch der AEgyptera (eod. with 79 tables). In the same year followed the great expedition to Egypt, projected by Bunsen, and carried out at the expense of the king of Prussia, Frederick William IV. Lepsius was the leader, and he acquitted himself of this most difficult task with perfect success. Every student of Egyptology knows the fruits of that expedition, as gathered partly in Denkmaler aus Egypten und AEthiopien (1849-59, 12 volumes of the largest folio, with 894 tables). In 1849 he published his Chronologie der AEgypter, one volume; the second never appeared. Without enumerating the many works which he published after his return from Egypt, we will state that in 1866 he went to the land of the Pharaohs once more, and this second expedition was crowned by the discovery of a new trilingual tablet, a worthy companion of the Rosetta stone. In 1869 he paid his last visit to the land of his lifelong love, being present at the opening of the Suez canal. and afterwards travelled with the crown-prince of Prussia to Upper Egypt and Nubia. The last years of his life were devoted chiefly to the elaboration of his Nubian Grammar, a work of enormous labor, full not only of new materials, but of new views on the relationship of the numerous languages of Africa. "Taken all in all," says Max Miiller, "Lepsius was the perfect type of the German professor, devoted to his work, full of ideals and convinced that there is no higher vocation in life than to preserve and to add to the sacred stock of human knowledge, which, though it is seen by the few only, has to be carried, like the Ark of the Covenant. from battle to battle, and kept safe from the hands of the Philistines." Lepsius died July 10, 1884, only one day after Dorner and Lange. Like a Christian. he prepared himself for his last journey. being strengthened before his departure by the Lord's Supper, which he received from the hands of the court-preacher, Dr. Kogel. Besides having received different orders from the hands of kings, he was made doctor of theology by the Leipsic University in 1859. He. also introduced the so-called missionary alphabet, or Standard Alphabet for Reducing Unwritten Languages and Foreign Graphic Systems to a Uniform Orthography in European Letters, a system which gained support both by scholars and missionaries. See Max Muller, in the Academy (Lond. July 19, 1884); Ebers, Richard Lepsius, ein Lebenisbild (Leipsic, 1885; a list of Lepsius's works is found on pages 376-390); Dillmann, Geddchtnissrede auf Karl Richard Lepsius, read before the Berlin Academy of Sciences, July 2, 1885 (Berlin, 1885). (B.P.)

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.