GROTEFEND, Georg Friedrich

GROTEFEND, Georg Friedrich. Munich 9.6.1775 — Hannover 15.12.1853. German Philologist and Historian, the Famous Pioneer of Assyriology and Cuneiform Studies, Decipherer of the Old Persian Cuneiform Script. Son of a shoemaker. Studies at Göttingen (Heyne, Tychsen and Heeren). From 1797 teacher at Göttingen Gymnasium, from 1803 Prorector of Frankfurt Gymnasium and 1821-49 Director of Hannover Gymnasium. Married, father of historian Karl Ludwig Gr. (1807–1874).

With the help of Niebuhr’s copies of Old Persian cuneiform inscriptions he succeeded identifying names and titles of Achaemenid kings, also known from Greek and Hebrew parallel evidence. Although his readings of the inscriptions in other respects were still quite fantastic, this was the real break-through of decipherment. His later attempts to explain also the Akkadian cuneiform was a failure.

Publications: “De Cuneatis, quas vocant, inscriptionibus Persepolitanis legendis et explicandis relatio”, Comm. Soc. R. Gotting. 1802, 576-583, 585-594, 594-603 & 1803, 605-616.

Neue Beiträge zur Erläuterung der persepolitanischen Keilschrift. 4°. 48 p. Hannover 1837.

– “Die Tributverzeichnisse des Obelisken aus Nimrud nebst Vorbemerkungen über den verschiedenen Ursprung und Character der persischen und assyrischen Keilschrift”, AGGW 5, 1853, 201-298, 3 pl. and other works.

Sources: numerous sources, i.al. *D. Cherubim, Lex. gramm. 1996, 374f.; *J. Mohl, JA 5:4, 1854; *P. Swiggers, “La base Leibnizienne des déchiffrements de G.F.G.”, OLP 10, 1979, 125-132; *A.D.B. 9; *N.D.B. 7; *G.F.Gr. 1775–1853. Festschrift seiner Vaterstadt zu seinem Gedenken. 88 p. München 1975; Wikipedia with photo (see also German version).

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