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Griffith, Francis Llewellyn
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British Egyptologist; he was born in Brighton, 27 May 1862, youngest son of the Revd John G., LLD, headmaster of Brighton College and a mathematician, and Sarah Foster his wife; educated at Brighton Coll., Sedbergh, and Highgate School; he gained a scholarship to The Queen's College, Oxford 1879, but while there refused to read for final hons. and studied on his own; in 1882 he was articled to his brother, a solicitor in Brighton; graduated 1884; MA; DLitt; Hon. LLD Aberdeen; FBA; FSA; his interest in Egyptology was first awakened by reading Belzoni as a child, later at school he became more involved with it and by 1884 had not only acquired a good knowledge of classics but had taught himself Egyptian; he asked Petrie for help and spent four seasons with Petrie and Naville excavating in Egypt, 1884-8, at the sites of Naucratis, Tanis, Tell el-Yahudiya, and Gumaiyema in the Delta; he also gained valuable experience 1886 when he accompanied Petrie on a trip through Upper Egypt from Minia to Aswan, and at this period made a trip across N. Sinai to Wady el-Arish to copy and publish an inscription found by Sayce; he worked as an assistant in the Dept. of British and Mediaeval Antiquities and Ethnography in the British Museum, 1888-96, but continued his Egyptian research in his spare time; he was also Assistant to the Professor of Egyptology, University College London, 1892-1901; Hon. Lecturer in Egyptology at Manchester University, 1896-1908; appointed Reader in Egyptology, University of Oxford, 1901; Professor, 1924; Deputy Professor, 1932; Professor Emeritus, 1933; Hon. Fellow of The Queen's Coll., Oxford; he undertook excavations at Faras and Sanam in Nubia 1910-3; he married 1. Kate daughter of Charles Timothy Bradbury of Ashton-under-Lyne, 1896, who had studied under Petrie, died 1902; 2. Nora C. C. daughter of Surgeon-Major James Macdonald, died 1937; Griffith was the foremost philologist in the whole range of Egyptian texts in Britain, and in the field of hieratic studies broke new ground; with his transcriptions, translations, and interpretations of the Kahun and Gurob Papyri he dealt with extremely difficult cursive texts most accurately; he next turned to Demotic and his Stories of the High Priests raised him straight away to be the leading Demotist of his day; he also did valuable research in Old Coptic and the Nubian language, but his greatest achievement was the decipherment of Meroitic script; this with H. Schafer's similar feat in Christian Nubian was the first pioneer work of its kind since Champollion and brought him world-wide recognition; Griffith's bibl. lists over 260 books and articles his principal works were, Tanis, 1888, a chapter in Petrie's Pt. Naukratis, Pt. ii, 1888; The City of Onias and the Mound of the Jew, 1890, ed. Naville; Two Hieroglyphic Papyri from Tanis, 1889; Inscriptions of Siut and Der Rifeh 1889; Beni Hasan, pts. iii and iv, 1896, 1900; Hieratic Papyri from Kahun and Gurob, 2 vols. 1897, 1898; Hieroglyphs from the Collections of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1898; Stories of the High Priests of Memphis, 1900; Demotic Magical Papyrus of London and Leyden, 3 vols. 1904-9, with Sir Herbert Thompson; Catalogue of the Demotic Papyri in the Rylands Library at Manchester, 3 vols. 1909; The Meroitic Inscriptions of Shablul and Karanog, 1911; Meroitic Inscriptions, 2 pts. 1911, 1912; The Nubian Texts of the Christian Period, 1913; 'Oxford Excavations in Nubia', in Liverpool Annals of Arch. & Anth., 1921-8; Christian Documents from Nubia, 1928; after his death his wife also completed two of his works, Catalogue of the Demotic Graffiti of the Dodecaschoenus, 1935, 1937; The Adler Papyri, 1939; he wrote articles in EB (9-10 eds); Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, etc.; in all Griffith wrote or contributed to 19 EEF reports and memoirs, and edited no fewer than 25 vols. of the Archaeological Survey of which he wrote 5; he was by far the greatest literary contributor to the work of the EES, writing many articles and reviews in JEA and editing the Annual Reports for twenty years; he wrote bibls. for 34 years from 1892 on; in later life he was again excavating at Amarna and Kawa in the Sudan; by his will he bequeathed his magnificent Egyptological library, the finest one in existence, and papers, together with a large financial endowment to build and maintain an Institute of Near-Eastern Archaeology at Oxford; this took effect on the death of his wife in 1937, and the Griffith Institute, attached to the Ashmolean Museum, was built and formally opened, 21 Jan. 1939, on his 70th birthday, a fine volume of Studies by 72 of his colleagues, pupils and friends was presented to him; he died in Boar's Hill, Oxford, 14 March 1934.
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- Who Was Who in Egyptology (4th ed. 2012), 227-8 fig. (portrait).