Alan Henderson Gardiner

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Dates: 
1879-1965

British Egyptologist; born in Eltham, 29 March 1879, younger son of Henry John G., a wealthy businessman, and Clara Honey his wife; his brother Henry Balfour G. was the composer; he became interested in Egyptology while at school and was encouraged in this by Sir E. Wallis Budge, W. E. Crum, Petrie, and Griffith, the last of whom taught him some Egyptian philology at University College London; he was educated at Charterhouse, and before going up to Oxford attended some of Maspero’s courses at the École des Hautes Études and the Collège de France, 1895-6; he wrote his first article at the age of fifteen and had it published in Biblia, 1895, his last being written nearly seventy years later; he read Classics, Hebrew, and Arabic at The Queen’s College, Oxford, 1897- 1901, there being at that time no Egyptological course in the University; he married Hedwig Rosen from Vienna, 1901, and visited Egypt for the first time that year; being endowed with sufficient income from his father Gardiner was able to pursue his studies without having to seek academic posts and also to obtain the best academic education; he lived in Berlin between 1902 and 1912 and studied philology intensively under Erman, where he helped in the work of Verzettelung, making the preparatory slips for the great Egyptian dictionary, but did not attend actual classes; he was a most painstaking and systematic worker throughout his life, and he stressed his own contributions to these Zettel in Berlin and also to the amount he wrote then; he was made sub-editor on this dictionary project 1906-8, and held the Laycock Studentship at Worcester College, Oxford at this time, 1906-12; he visited Egypt in 1908 to see the MacIver excavations in Nubia, and on returning in 1909, he joined Weigall in making the Catalogue of the private Theban tombs; with N. de G. Davies he edited 5 vols. in the Theban Tomb series, and he also edited a collection 206 of 104 reproductions by Nina M. Davies, Ancient Egyptian Paintings; 3 vols., 1936; in addition he edited the first 3 vols. of the Temple of King Sethos I at Abydos and those of the Egyptian Coffin Texts; he often paid for publications himself or helped finance others; from 1912 to 1914 he was Reader in Egyptology in the University of Manchester; Research Professor in Egyptology in the University of Chicago, 1924-34, but in general did not accept University posts as he liked to work on publications without interruption; he helped to found the JEA to which he contributed nearly one hundred articles as well as reviews, and he edited it for several periods, 1916-21, 1934, and 1941-6; he was Hon. Secretary of the EES, 1917-20; Vice President and finally President, 1959-63; he acquired many distinctions throughout his long career, DLitt University of Oxford, 1909; Hon. DLitt Universities of Durham, 1952, Cambridge, 1956; FBA, 1929; Hon. Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford, 1930; Member of the Institut de France, 12 April 1946; Knight Bachelor, 1948; Hon. Member of the Royal Danish Acad. of Sciences, 1942; the Bavarian Acad., 1929; the Oriental Institute of Prague, 1930; the Prussian Acad., 1935; the Philosophical Soc. of America, 1943; the Soc. Asiatique, 1946; the Institut d’Égypte, 1947; the Netherlands Acad., 1950; the American Acad., 1957; the Austrian Acad., 1958; the list of his publications is very long, the bibl. published on his seventieth birthday listing 26 Egyptological books of which he was author or part author, and 221 articles, reviews, and obituaries; his first major article was The Installation of a Vizier, 1904; The Inscription of Mes, dealing with a lawsuit in the reign of Ramesses II, 1905; he thereafter specialized in hieratic texts on papyri and ostraca, working on texts in the British Museum, Leiden, and Turin; he published Die Klagen des Bauern, with Vogelsang, 1908; The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage, 1909; Die Erzählung des Sinuhe und die Hirtengeschichte, 1909; Egyptian Hieratic Texts, 1911; Theban Ostraca, with H. Thompson and J. G. Milne, 1913; The Tomb of Amenemhet (No 82) with Nina de G. Davies, 1915; Notes on the Story of Sinuhe, 1916; The Inscriptions of Sinai with T. E. Peet, pt I, 1917, Rev. ed. with J. Cerny, 1952; The Tomb of Huy, Viceroy of Nubia in the Reign of Tut‘ankhamun, with Nina de G. Davies, 1926; Egyptian Letters to the Dead, mainly from the Old and Middle Kingdoms, with K. Sethe, 1928; Chester Beatty entrusted to him the publication of the papyri he had acquired in 1928, Description of a Hieratic Papyrus with a Mythological Story, Love Songs and other Miscellaneous Texts, 1931; Late Egyptian Stories, 1932; Le Papyrus Léopold II et le Papyrus Amherst, which he edited with J. Capart, 1933; Third Series of the Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum, 1935; The Attitude of the Ancient Egyptians to Death and the Dead, Frazer Lecture, 1935; Late Egyptian Miscellanies, 1937; Ramesside Administrative Documents, 1940; The Wilbour Papyrus, 3 vols. dealing with a XXth Dynasty taxation survey, 1941-8; Ancient Egyptian Onomastica, 3 vols. 1947; The Ramesseum Papyri, 1955; The Royal Canon of Turin, a new treatment of the king-list published for his eightieth birthday, 1959; The Kadesh Inscriptions of Ramesses II, 1960; Egypt of the Pharaohs, a student’s history of Egypt, 1961; he was assisted in his great work by a number of collaborators such as B. G. Gunn, R. O. Faulkner, and H. W. Fairman; his most famous work was his Egyptian Grammar, 1st ed. 1927, which has gone through two further editions and which put the teaching of Middle Egyptian on an entirely new basis; but his greatest discovery was undoubtedly the recognition of the Sinaitic script and its role as an alphabetic link between the Egyptian hieroglyphic and the Semitic alphabets; Gardiner also undertook the translation of the inscriptions in the tomb of Tutankhamun; he donated objects to the British Museum, and gave to the Ashmolean Museum his large collection of ostraca and painted copies of Theban tomb paintings by Nina de G. Davies; his notebooks, photographs, slip indexes, vocabularies, and correspondence are now deposited in the Griffith Institute, Oxford, and a considerable part of his library is now housed at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, to which it was bequeathed; he died in Iffley, Oxford, 19 Dec. 1963.
 

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