RAWLINSON, Henry Creswicke

RAWLINSON, Henry Creswicke (Sir Henry). Chadlington Park, Oxfordshire 11.4.1810 — London 5.3.1895. Bart. British Pioneer of Near Eastern Archaeology. Son of Abram Tyson R. and Eliza Creswicke, brother of —> George R. Educated at Wrington and Ealing schools, became early interested in ancient history. In the age of 16 he joined the E.I.C.’s service and came to India in 1827. He learned quickly Arabian, Hindustani and especially Persian. From 1828 interpreter and paymaster to the Ist Bombay Grenadiers. Moved to Intelligence Department in 1833 he was in 1835 sent to Kirmanshah as military adviser to local governor. Now he started his antiquarian studies copying the Achaemenian Elvend inscriptions. Still in 1835 he went to Behistun and, hanging from ropes, copied the inscriptions. In 1836 he was told of Grotefend’s work, but could not get his publications and succeeded in deciphering the Old Persian cuneiform completely on his own. Winter 1836 and 1838 he resided in Baghdad. In 1840 he was sent to Kandahar as Political Agent. In 1842 quitted the army. As Political Agent in Baghdad from 1843 he continued the copying work at Behistun in 1844 and again 1847.

Rawlinson sent his decipherment in 1837 to Europe, where it got the enthusiastic attention of men like Norris and Burnouf. To go further with it he studied Sanskrit and Avestan. Visiting Europe in 1844 he also saw previous studies and could take them into account in his first publication. In the end of the 1840s he started the work on Elamic and Akkadian cuneiforms. In 1849-51 in England studying Akkadian inscriptions in British Museum. In autumn 1851 he returned to Baghdad as Consul-General and, after Layard’s departure, inspector of excavations in Mesopotamia and Susiana, digging himself on many sites. In 1855 he returned definitely to England (save the brief period as Ambassador in Persia in 1859-60) and devoted to his cuneiform studies, where he made great achievements for the understanding of all three kinds, Old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian. In 1862 married Louisa Caroline Seymour (d. 1889), two sons. He was also engaged in politics (M.P. for Frome 1856-68) and was a member of India Council in 1858 and from 1869 until death. K.C.B. 1856, G.C.B. 1889, Baronet 1891. Hon. doctor of Cambridge and Edinburgh. President of R.A.S. 1878-81 and its Director 1862-95.

Publications: “The Persian Cuneiform Inscription at Behistûn decyphered and translated”, JRAS 10, 1846, 1-349; “Analysis of the Babylonian Text at Behistun”, JRAS 14, 1851; “Memoir on the Babylonian and Assyrian Inscriptions”, JRAS 14, 1851, 104+16 p.; “Notes on the Early History of Babylonia”, JRAS 15, 1855, 215-259, 431-433; “Bilingual Readings”, JRAS N.S. 1, 1865, 187-246; short articles.

Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia. 1-5. L. 1860-84.

England and Russia in the East. 22+412 p. L. 1875.

Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; *E. Chassinat, RHR 31, 1895, 239f.; R.N. Cust, JRAS 1895, 681-691, *F. Goldsmid, JRGS 1895; *G. Maspero, CRAI 39, 1895, 91f.; *G. Rawlinson, A Memoir of Major-General Sir H.Cr.R. L. 1898 (with photo, then in Pedersen 1959, 159); Wallis Budge, Rise and Progress of Assyriology. 1925; Wikipedia with portrait and photo.

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