Maspero, Gaston Camille Charles

Maspero, Sir Gaston Camille Charles

(gästôN` kämē`yə shärl mäspərō`), 1846–1916, French Egyptologist. He taught at the Collège de France and was director of archaeology in Egypt, where he established the French School of Oriental Archaeology at Cairo and accomplished valuable work, especially in Luxor and Karnak. Maspero returned to France in 1914 as permanent secretary of the Académie des inscriptions et belles lettres. Among his chief works is L'Histoire ancienne des peuples de l'Orient classique, of which three volumes were translated as The Dawn of Civilization (1884), The Struggle of Nations (1897), and The Passing of the Empires (1900). An excellent brief version is his Histoire ancienne des peuples de l'Orient (1875).
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Maspero, Gaston Camille Charles


Born June 23, 1846, in Paris; died there June 30, 1916. French Egyptologist. Member of the French Academy of Inscriptions from 1883 and its permanent secretary from 1914.

Maspero founded the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo in 1881. From 1881 to 1886 and then from 1899 to 1914 he was director general of the Antiquities Service and director of the Egyptian Museum. Archaeological excavations directed by Maspero made numerous discoveries, including a cache with the mummies of pharaohs of the 17th to 22nd dynasties in Deir el Bahri; the Pyramid Texts (magic formulas, hymns to the gods, excerpts from myths) on the inner walls of pyramids of the Fifth and Sixth dynasties in Saqqara; and tombs in Dahshur, Medum (Meidum), and Saqqara. Maspero initiated the clearance and restoration of the temples of Karnak and Luxor. He also founded the Egyptian Museum’s publication, General Catalog.

Maspero’s works encompass all fields of Egyptology. On the basis of sources known during his time, Maspero published his Histoire ancienne des peuples de l’Orient classique (Ancient History of the Peoples of the Classical Orient; vols. 1-3, 1895-99; Russian translation, 1895). In this work he summarized all that was known about the ancient peoples of the Middle East. Describing the ancient society of the Middle East as feudal, he nevertheless acknowledged the extensive use of slave labor. Maspero was a talented writer of books popularizing the history and culture of ancient Egypt.


In Russian translation:
Egipet. Moscow, 1915.
Vo vremena Ramzesa i Assurbanipala, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1916.


Cordier, H. Bibliographie des oeuvres de G. Maspero. Paris, 1922.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.