Error processing SSI file

Books on the Decipherment of Ancient Languages from
the Arnold Semeiology Collection



CHARLES ETIENNE BRASSEUR DE BOURBOURG (1814-1874)
Histoire des Nations Civilées du Mexique et de l'Amerique-Centrale.
Pars, Arthus Bertrand, 1857-59. 4 vols.

Belgian ethnographer and Roman Catholic priest, Father Brasseur spent much of his life as a missionary in Mexico and Central America. Histoire is the first of several works on that area's people and language. Several sections give general comments on languages of Mexico. Of particular note is the work's introduction by Brasseur's fellow-archaeologist, Joseph Marius Alexis Aubin (b. 1802). In it Aubin demonstrates how Mexican pictographs were used not only to represent objects, but also to stand for the syllables forming a word. Histoire paved the way for Brasseur's announcement in 1863 of his own discovery of a key to the Mexican hieroglyphs. Unfortunately, his attempts at decipherment were failures, and his hieroglyphic key is of questionable value. (Bibliothèque Nationale XVIII:1117-1118; Galland p.28)


JOHN CHADWICK (B.1920)
The Decipherment of Linear B.
Cambridge [Eng.] At the University Press, 1959.

Written primarily for the layman, Chadwick here presents an account of the decipherment of the famous tablet found at Knossos in Crete and Pylos in Greece. The work of the British architect and amateur cryptographer Michael Ventris (1922-1957), the project brought to light the oldest form of Greek, commonly referred to as Mycenaean Greek, or Linear B. A companion volume to Chadwick and Ventris' Documents in Mycanaean Greek (Cambridge, 1956), Decipherment explains in detail the processes used by Ventris. First announced in 1953, Ventris' technique includes the use of the combinatory method and statistical analysis. Chadwick's book is, in part, a defense of Ventris' work, which has won wide, but not universal acceptance, the most important critic being A.J. Beattie, Professor of Greek at Edinburgh. (LC (42-62) 28:297)


JEAN FRANCOIS CHAMPOLLION (1790-1832)
Précis du Système Hiéroglyphique des Anciens Egyptiens. Seconde édition.
[Paris] Imprimerie Royale, 1827-28. 2 vols. in 1.

Known as the founder of Egyptology, Champollion embodied in this work the result of his efforts to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs. By equations of demotic and hieroglyphic characters, he was able to identify native Egyptian names and to demonstrate the relationship between the ancient Egyptian and Coptic languages. Although he was unable to decipher the Rosetta Stone inscription, Champollion's work clearly established the alphabetic character of Egyptian hieroglypic writing. Précis first appeared in 1824. It was supplemented by Grammaire Egyptienne (Paris, 1836-41) and Dictionnaire Egyptien (Paris, 1841-1843), both edited from manuscripts by Champollion's brother, Jacques Joseph Champollion-Figeac (1778-1867). Before his death, Champollion succeeded in translating lengthy texts in hieroglyphic and hieratic, but his work was contested by many after his death. (Gaulland p. 38; NUC 103:118 (NC 0293030))


EDUARD VLADIMIROVICH EVREINOV (and others)
Primenenie Elektronnykh Vychislitel'nykh Mashin y Issledovanii Pis'mennosti Drevnikh Maiia.
Novosibirsk, Izd-vo Sibirskogo Otedeleniia AN SSSR, 1961. (In cyrillic characters) 3 vols.

Under the sponsorship of the Academy of Sciences at Novosibirsk, this work presents an attempt to interpret Mayan hieroglyphs by the use of computer technology. Volumes 1 and 2 give facsimiles of the Mayan manuscripts Codex Tro-Cortesianus at the Museo de América in Madrid, and Codex Dresdensis Maya at the Sächsische Landesbibliothek, Dresden. Each section of manuscript is accompanied by a numeric transcription of the hieroglyphs and a proposed textual transliteration. Volume 3 is a systematized catalog of the hieroglyphs in the Madrid and Dresden codices, together with their computer program equivalents. (NUC (63-67) 16:531)


ATHANASIUS KIRCHER (1601-1680)
Prodromvs Coptvs, sive Aegyptiacvs.
Rome, Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, 1636.

This is one of several works in which Kircher, Professor of Oriental Languages at Würzburg and Rome, brought to the attention of the scholarly world the importance of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Prodromus is concerned primarily with the study of the Coptic language, and the institutions of Coptic Christians. In a lengthy section devoted to the language, Kircher compares Coptic with Greek, Hebrew, and other oriental languages. He gives particular attention to the possibility of finding Coptic words and names in Egyptian hieroglyphs. (Brunet 3:668; Graesse IV:22)


OLE WORM (1588-1654)
Danicorum Monumentorum Libri Sex.
Copenhagen, Joachim Moltke, 1643.

A Danish physician, Ole Worm was the first to practice prehistoric archaeology. The present work is particularly important for its description of many Danish monuments and inscriptions now lost. Worm devotes a major portion of the work to the study of runes. Bound with this copy of Danicorum Monumentorum is a copy of the author's Fasti Danici (Copenhagen, 1643), a work dealing with runic calendars. This volume bears the bookplate of John Campbell. 3rd Earl of Breadalbane (ca. 1696-1782; Brunet 5:1477-1478; Graesse VI:475)


Return to the introductory page.

Special Collections Home
Error processing SSI file
Last update:  Variable 'LAST_MODIFIED' cannot be evaluated
Page maintained by spec@wulib.wustl.edu
Error processing SSI file