LEPSIUS, Karl Richard. Naumburg (Saale) 23.12.1810 — Berlin 10.7.1884. German Egyptologist and Linguist. Professor in Berlin. Son of C. P. Lepsius (1775-1853), a judge and local historian, in 1822 moved to Schulpforta, where he went to school. Studies of classical philology, archaeology, history and linguistics in 1829-30 at Leipzig, 1830-32 at Göttingen and 1832-33 at Berlin. Ph.D. 1833 Berlin (under Boeckh), the dissertation on Umbric made him famous. In 1833-35 further studies in Paris, now started Old Egyptian. In 1836 travelled through North Italy to Rome, where he pursued further his Egyptian studies as well as in 1839 in London. In 1836-42 secretary to Archaeological Institute in Rome. In 1842-45 he led the Prussian archaeological expedition to Egypt. From 1946 ord. Professor für Ägyptologie at Berlin, from 1855 also Co-Director and 1865 Director of Egyptian Museum. Again visited Egypt in 1866, and a third and last time in 1869. 1867 Director of Archaeological Institute in Rome, from 1873 Director of Royal Prussian Library. He married in 1846 Elizabeth Klein and had two daughters and four sons (Richard, 1851-1915, Professor of Geology; Bernhard 1854-1934, chemist; Reinhold, 1857-1922, painter; Johannes, 1858-1926, missionary priest).
RL was the scholar who was able to establish the Hieroglyph decipherment of Champollion beyond doubt. Though primitive according to modern standards, his Egyptian expedition in the 1840s was then exceptionally long and thorough. He was also a pioneer of Egyptian history and the finder of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. In addition to Egyptology, RL early developed a general interest in the history of writing and in this connection also discussed Old Iranian and Indo-Aryan.
Publications: diss. De Tabulis Eugubinis. 1833.
– Paläographie als mittel für die sprachforschung zunächst am Sanskrit nachgewiesen. 101 p. B. 1834.
– Lettre à M. le Prof. Rossellini sur l’alphabet hiéroglyphique. 1837.
– Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien. 1-12. 1849-59.
– Das Totenbuch der Ägypter. 1842; Die Chronologie der Ägypter. 1849; Das Königsbuch der alten Ägypter. 1858; other works on Egyptology.
– “Das ursprüngliche Zendalphabet”, ABeAW 1862, 293-383; “Ueber das Lautsystem der Persischen Keilschrift”, ABeAW 1862, 385-412.
– Das nubische Grammatik. 1880; Die Längenmasse der Alten. 1884.
Sources: *A.D.B. 51; Dawson & Uphill, Who Was Who in Egyptology. Rev. ed. 1972, 173-175 (with further reff. to Egyptological literature); *F. Kammerzell, Lex. gramm. 1996, 563-565; *Leblois, RHR 10, 1884, 238-243; Settgast, N.D.B. 14, 1985, 308f.; *Wikipedia with photo.