Karl Richard Lepsius, a German Egyptologist, born in Naumburg, on the Saale, Dec. 23, 1810. In 1828 he began the study of languages at the university of Leipsic, and continued it at Gottingen and Berlin, at which latter place he was a pupil of Bopp. In 1833 his essay on the Eugubian tablets obtained for him the degree of doctor from the university of Berlin. In 1834 he published his Palaographie als Mittel der Sprachforschung (2d ed., Leipsic, 1842), and in the same year went to Paris, where through his friend Humboldt he became well known to the French literati. In April, 1836, he arrived at Rome, where he became a member of the archaeological institute and formed an intimacy with Bun-sen. From this time he began to devote himself to the study of Egyptian antiquities, and in 1837 attracted much attention by his Lettre d M. Rosellini sur l'alphabet hieroglyphique. His residence in Italy was short, but during it he made researches which formed the basis of several works published at a later date. Among these were his Inscriptiones Umoricce et Oscae (1841), the Todtenbuch der Aegypter, the impression of a papyrus in the museum of Turin (Leipsic, 1842), an essay on comparative philology and one on the numerals in the Indo-Germanic languages, for which he received a prize of 1,200 francs, and two essays on the ancient inhabitants of Italy. In 1838 he went to England on a mission from the archaeological institute of Rome. Here in company with Bunsen he subsequently projected a great work on ancient Egypt, the materials for which were partly to be gathered by personal investigations in that country.
Through the intervention of Bunsen, Humboldt, and Eichhorn, Frederick William IV. of Prussia was induced to send an expedition of learned men and artists to Egypt, with Lepsius at its head. The party assembled at Alexandria in the autumn of 1842, and began its researches under protection of the government. Among the discoveries which Lepsius made in Egypt are monuments of some of the Pharaohs of the old Egyptian monarchy and later Ethiopian dynasty, the remains of the labyrinth, and Lake Moeris. To these may be added the plan of the Memnonium and the tomb of Rameses II. or Sesostris. But the most important discoveries claimed were that the Ethiopian civilization was in fact Egyptian* introduced 2,000 years before Christ, that the Ethiopians of Meroe were not a black but a brown Caucasian race, and that a great number of genuine Ethiopic inscriptions are still extant from the Meroitic pyramids down to Philae. Among the members of this expedition were the two Weidenbachs, the architects Erbkam and Wild, Bonomi, Abeken, and the painter Georgi. Its results gave the most complete satisfaction when in 1845 it returned to Europe. It had previously transmitted a portion, and on returning brought with it the remainder, of a very fine collection of Egyptian antiquities, now in the museum of Berlin. While in Egypt, Lepsius wrote his Briefe aus Aegypten, Aethiopien und der Halbinsel des Sinai (Berlin, 1852; translated by Horner, London, 1853), in which his travels and discoveries were described in a spirited manner.
Previous to his departure for the East, Lepsius had been elected one of the directors of the archaeological institute, and he was also appointed by the king professor at Berlin. In 1866 he made a second visit to Egypt for the purpose of examining geographically the delta of the Nile, during which he discovered in the ruins of Tanis an important bilingual inscription, in hieroglyphics and Greek, of the time of Ptolemy III. Euergetes. In 1874 he was placed at the head of the Prussian state library in Berlin. Among his principal works are: Chro-nologie der Aegypter (Berlin, 1849); Ueber den ersten agyptischen Gotterkreis (1851); Ueber die 12te agyptische Konigsdynastie (1853); and Das allgemeine linguistische Alphabet (1855). The first number of his great work, Die Denkmaler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien, was published in 1849, and was continued in parts during ten years, being completed in 1859. His later works are: Ueber einige Beruhrungspunkte der agyptischen, grie-chischen und romischen Chronologie (Berlin, 1859); Die altagyptische Elle und ihre Ein-theilung (Berlin, 1865); Aelteste Texte des Todtenbuchs nach Sarkophagen des altagyp-tischen Reichs (Berlin, 1867); and various treatises referring to the original systems of writing of the Chinese, Thibetan, Arabic, Persian, and Zend languages.
Under the title Denkmaler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien has also been issued a selection of photographs from his great work on Egypt (4 series, 12 sheets each, Berlin, 1873). Since 1864 he has also been associate editor of the archaeological periodical founded by Brugsch, entitled Zeit-schrift fur agyptische Sprache und Alterthums-Kunde. Alexander von Humboldt based all his statements in his kosmos relating to Egyptian chronology and history on manuscript information which he received from Prof. Lepsius.