LEPSIUS, Karl Richard. Naumburg (Saale) 23.12.1810 — Berlin 10.7.1884. German Egyptologist and Linguist. Professor in Berlin. Son ofKarl Peter Lepsius (1775-1853), a judge and local historian, and Friederike Glaeser, 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 (here also Sanskrit)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 began Old Egyptian (under Letronne). 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 Egyptand Nubia. From 1846 ord. Professor für Ägyptologie at Berlin (1842 ao.), 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. From 1850 Prussian Academy. 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).
Lepsius 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. 102+2 p. Berolini 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. 89 p. Rome 1837.
– Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien. 1-12. B. 1849-59 (894 folio pl., text part ed. by Naville et al. 1-5. 1897-1913).
– Das Totenbuch der Ägypter. 24 p. 79 facs. pl. Lp. 1842; Die Chronologie der Ägypter. 13+554 p. B. 1849; Das Königsbuch der alten Ägypter. 1-2. 73 pl. B. 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. 126+506 p. B. 1880; Die Längenmasse der Alten. 110 p. B. 1884.
Sources: Dawson & Uphill, Who Was Who in Egyptology. Rev. ed. 1972, 173-175 (with further reff. to Egyptological literature); *G. Ebers, RL: a biography. N.Y. 1887 (orig. in German 1885, with portrait, then also in in Pedersen 1959, 176); *F. Kammerzell, Lex. gramm. 1996, 563-565; *Leblois, RHR 10, 1884, 238-243; *Max Müller, Biogr. Essays. 2nd ed. as Chips 2, 1895, 475-485; *E. Naville, A.D.B. 51, 1906, 659-670; Settgast, N.D.B. 14, 1985, 308f.; *Wikipedia with photo.
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