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Grotefend

The name of several archaeologists of distinction.


1.

Georg Friedrich, born at Münden in Hanover, June 9th, 1775. He was educated at Münden, Ilfeld, and the University of Göttingen. In 1797 he became master in the Göttingen Gymnasium, and soon after wrote his treatise De Pasigraphia (1799), which led to his being made Pro-rector of the Gymnasium at Frankfort-on-theMain, and soon after Co-rector. In 1821 he was called to the rectorship of the Gymnasium at Hanover, which he held until 1849. He died December 15th, 1853.

In 1823-24 Grotefend revised Wenck's Latin grammar, and followed this publication with a smaller grammar for the use of schools (1826). His Rudimenta Linguae Umbricae, eight parts (1835-38), is an attempt to explain the remains of the Umbrian dialect (see Umbria); and soon after he put forth a similar work relating to the Oscan, Rudimenta Linguae Oscae (1839). In 1840-42 appeared, in five parts, his work Zur Geographie und Geschichte von Altitalien. He will, however, be longest remembered by his brilliant work in discovering a clue to the decipherment of the Persian cuneiform inscriptions that had so long defied all attempts at elucidation. Grotefend communicated his discovery to the Royal Society of Göttingen in 1800. The points that he was the first to establish were (a) that the Persian inscriptions contain three different varieties of cuneiform, so that the decipherment of one would give a clue to the decipherment of the others; (b) that the characters of the Persian cuneiform are alphabetic and not syllabic; (c) that they must be read from left to right; (d) that the alphabet consists of forty letters, including the signs for long and short vowels. These discoveries laid a solid basis for the work of those who followed and who finally solved the remaining problems. The details of the methods that led to his discoveries are given by Grotefend in his Neue Beiträge zur Erläuterung der persepolitanischen Keilinschrift (1837); and Neue Beiträge zur Erläuterung der babylonischen Keilinschrift (1840). See Cuneiform.


2.

Karl Ludwig, son of the preceding, was born at Frankfort, December 22d, 1809. He studied at Göttingen, and held a post in the Royal Archives of Hanover from 1853. He died October 27th, 1874. His chief work was done in numismatics, epigraphy, and history. He published Die Münzen der griechischen, parthischen, und indoskythischen Könige von Baktrien (1839); Imperium Romanum Tributim Descriptum (1863); Chronologische Anordnung der athenischen Silbermünzen (1872); and a number of historical papers in the Zeitschrift des historischen Vereins für Niedersachsen (1850-74).

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