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French Egyptologist and founder of the Egyptian Antiquities Service; he was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, 11 Feb. 1821, son of Francois Paulin M., an official in the town hall, and Eugenie Sophie Melanie Delobeau; he was educated at the Coll. de Boulogne where he won various prizes; his father, a widower, remarried and had another family by his second wife, so that Mariette was unable to complete his education and was put into father's office as a supernumerary, 1837-9; at eighteen he went to England to teach French and Drawing at a school, Shakespeare House Academy, Stratford, for a Mr. Parker, 1839-40; he then went to Coventry to earn his living by designing models for ribbon manufacturers, but as he did not make money he returned to Boulogne in 1841 to complete his studies; he gained his Bacc.-es-Lettres at Douai in only six months with hon. mention, 1841; appointed Maitre d'etudes at Coll. de Boulogne, 1841; Professor of French, 1843; editor of L'Annotateur Boulonnais, 1843-6; he kept up his artistic work and also wrote articles on topical subjects at this time- in 1842 the family received their relative Nestor l'H0te's papers and young Mariette became fired with interest by going through them and learnt the Egyptian alphabet and decipherment, later filling the gaps in his knowledge when in Paris; he may also have been inspired by the Denon collection of Egyptian antiquities in Boulogne; for seven years he worked alone and unaided, he married Eleonore Millon, 1845; he learnt Coptic and had his first article published in the Annotateur Boulonnais, 'Catalogue analytique des monuments composant la Galerie eg. du Musee de Boulogne' in 1847; he also wrote a long paper on Tuthmosis III's Hall of Ancestors, 1849; in 1849 he obtained for a short time a minor post at the Louvre, but although now able to work full time on Egyptology he had a hard struggle in Paris; the first of his great feats of industry was to transcribe all the inscriptions then in the Louvre, many of these copies being later destroyed when his Cairo house was flooded, but they formed the basis for a general inventory of Egyptian monuments, July 1850; in 1850 he was sent to Egypt to acquire Coptic, Ethiopic, and Syriac MSS and made a Bibl. Copte now preserved with his papers at the Bibl. Nat.; he also began the excavation of the Serapeum at Memphis and its dromos, finding the Apis galleries and many famous antiquities and monuments; he succeeded in raising further funds and excavated for four years, 1850-4; only a small portion of this immense work at Sappara was ever published; his notes, filling very many vols., are now in the Louvre; in 1853 he cleared the area near the Sphinx and discovered the Valley Temple of Chephren; he was attached to the Louvre 1 Jan. 1852; he was appointed assistant curator in the Egyptian department of the Louvre, 1855-61, hon. assistant from 1861. Mariette's three greatest achievements were the creation of the first National Antiquities Service, the formation of the first National Museum in the Near East from his important discoveries, and the developing of a firstly Egyptian then world-wide conscience about the destruction, expropriation, and proper care and conservation of antiquities; backed by de Lesseps he made a successful plea to Said Pasha for an organization to deal with the standing Egyptian monuments which were being rapidly destroyed and for a Cairo Museum in an old house at Bulaq; Mariette started simultaneous excavations at numerous sites from Nubia to the Delta and dug at Saqqara and Giza with Brugsch, also at Thebes, Abydos, and Elephantine where he started workshops as well, 1857-8; many important discoveries were made such as the mastaba of Khufu-ankh; the Mastabat el-Farun was entered for the first time and at Thebes a necropolis of the 11th and 17th Dynasties excavated; the Khedive appointed him Director of Egyptian monuments, 1 June 1858; Mariette began a huge excavation programme with `digs' at Qurna, Karnak, Tell el-Yahudiya, Menshiet-Ramleh, Abydos, Giza pyramids, Saqqara, Mit-Rahineh, Tuna, Esna, Medinet Habu, Deir el-Bahri, Edfu and Sais, and later at Mendes and Bubastis, employing over 7,280 workmen in all; other important discoveries were the burial and jewellery of Queen Aah-hotep and the famous statues and monuments excavated at Tanis (San) 1859-61; in 1863 he opened the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities at Bulaq; most of his papers were destroyed when his house at Bulaq was flooded in 1878; with C. du Lode Mariette composed the libretto of Verdi's 3-act opera Aida, first performed in Cairo in 1871; member of the Academie des Inscriptions 1878; Pasha 1879; during his last years in spite of illness he found time to publish many works, although they included but a small part of what he had discovered, Memoire sur la mere d'apis, 1856; Choix de monuments et de dessins decouverts ou executes pendant le deblaiement du serapium de Memphis, 1856; Le Seraphim de Memphis, fol. 1857; Description des fouilles executees en Egypte, 1863, fol.; Apercu de l'histoire d'Egypte, 1864; Notice des principaux monuments exposés dans les galeries provisoires du Musie ... Boulak, 1864; Description du parc egyptien, for the popular exhibition of 1867 in Paris, also another for the 1878 exhibition; Abydos, 2 vols. 1869-80; Dendereh, 5 vols. fol. 1870-5; Dendereh, gen. description, 4°, 1875; Boulaq, fol. 1871; Monuments divers recueillis en Egypte et en Nubie, fol. 1881; Itineraire de la Haute-Egypte, 1872; Listes geographiques des pylons de Karnak, fol. and 4°, 1875; Karnak. Etude topographique et archeologique, 4°, Atlas, fol., 1875; Deir el-Bahari, 2 pts. fol., 1877; Voyage de la Haute-Egypte, 2 vols. fol., 1878-80; Catalogue general des monuments d'Abydos decouverts pendant les fouilles de cette ville, 1880; posth. works published by G. Maspero, Le Serapeum de Memphis, 4*, 1882; Les Mastabas de l'Ancien-Empire, fol., 1883; Mariette died in Bulaq, 18 Jan. 1881; his remains were interred in a sarcophagus later moved to the forecourt of Cairo Museum, surmounted by a bronze statue by Xavier Barthe unveiled 17 March 1904.
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Found amongst W. B. Emery's papers at the Egypt Exploration Society's dig house at Saqqâra.
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Catalogue of objects found in the Serapeum at Saqqara in 1850-2 and now in the Musée du Louvre. Copied by Mrs M. M. Emery.