Grotefend, Georg Friedrich

Grotefend, Georg Friedrich

(gā`ôrkh frē`drĭkh grō`təfĕnt), 1775–1853, German archaeologist and philologist. He specialized in Latin and Italian and wrote works on the Umbrian and Oscan languages and other subjects, but his greatest achievement was deciphering inscriptionsinscription,
writing on durable material. The art is called epigraphy. Modern inscriptions are made for permanent, monumental record, as on gravestones, cornerstones, and building fronts; they are often decorative and imitative of ancient (usually Roman) methods.
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 of Persian cuneiformcuneiform
[Lat.,=wedge-shaped], system of writing developed before the last centuries of the 4th millennium B.C. in the lower Tigris and Euphrates valley, probably by the Sumerians (see Sumer).
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Grotefend, Georg Friedrich


Born June 9, 1775, in Munich; died Dec. 15, 1853, in Hannover. German philologist who established the principles for the decipherment of Old Persian cuneiform.

Grotefend began his studies while he was a schoolteacher in Göttingen. He selected two inscriptions of the Persian Achaemenid kings as the basis for his decipherment. Proceeding from the recurrence in these inscriptions of the word he guessed to be “king” and guided by a logical chain of reasoning, in 1802 he read the beginning of the first inscription as “Darius, great king, king of kings, son of Hystaspes, the Achaemenid” and the beginning of the second as “Xerxes, great king, king of kings, son of Darius the king, the Achaemenid.”


Friedrich, J. Deshifrovka zabytykh pis’mennostei i iazykov. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from German.)
Flittner, N. D. Kul’tura i iskusstvo Dvurech’ia i sosednikh stran. Leningrad-Moscow, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.