Auguste Mariette

Photo added by William Bjornstad

Auguste Mariette

Boulogne-sur-Mer, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
Death 19 Jan 1881 (aged 59)
Cairo, El Qahira, Egypt
Burial Cairo, El Qahira, Egypt
Plot In the garden of the museum, left in the entrance
Memorial ID 9562172 · View Source
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Archaeologist. He received world-wide notoriety as a Frenchman for being known as one of the “founding father” of Egyptology, an archaeology study that specializes in Egyptian ruins. In 1848 his career started with him taking a minor position with the Egyptian Department of the Louvre Museum in Paris. The next year he traveled to Egypt to obtain ancient manuscripts, but instead of doing that assignment, he began excavating, with the guidance of a local native tribe, at Saqqarah, an area that included part of the ancient burial grounds at Memphis. He unearthed the Avenue of the Sphinxes and the Serapeum, a temple containing tombs of sacred bulls, making this area the main focus for archaeological digs. His finds included numerous statues and other treasures. After this successful find, French funding was available for four years with him remaining in Egypt excavating and transporting his finds in 250 crates back to the Louvre, where he became the curator when he returned to France. Upon his return to Egypt in 1858, he accepted the government position of conservator of all the monuments and ruins as the Director of Egyptian Antiquities Services, thus remaining in Egypt the rest of his life. He legally stopped the unauthorized excavations in Egypt, thus securing a monopoly in archaeological investigation. He also restricted the sale and export of antiquities in order to preserve new discoveries for the Egyptian nation. The next year, he coerced the Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt, Isma'il Pasha, to establish a museum at Bulaq, near Cairo, to house what became the world's primary repository of Egyptian antiquities, which eventually would become the Egyptian Museum in 1902. Among his many discoveries was the temple of Seti I. He also studied the pyramid fields of Saqqarah and the burial ground of Maydum, Abydos, and Thebes. He unearthed the great temples of Dandarah and Edful and had excavations at Karnak, Dayr al Bahri, Tanis and at Jabal Barkal in the Sudan. Under his directions the great Sphinx was bared to the rock level; the wall paintings found in a tomb at Saqqarah provided detailed panorama of the life in the Old Kingdom dating from 2575 to 2130 BC. Born Francois Auguste Ferdinand Mariette as the son of a clerk, he found an interest in Egypt early and being self-taught, was able to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, decipher Coptic writings, and became a talented illustrator by the age of twelve . By the age of eighteen, he was a professor of French and drawings at a boy's school in England, then 1840 an artist in a ribbon factory, and a part-time journalist writing historical articles. In 1841 he received a degree from University of Douai. With the death of a family member, who had traveled to Egypt with Jean Champollion, he had the task of sorting the deceased's remaining papers about Egypt, hence developing a passion for the country's history. He married Eleomore Millon on June 5, 1845. In 1847 he did a successful analytic cataloging of the Egyptian Gallery at the Boulogne Museum, which led to his 1848 position at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Prior to his 1858 return to Egypt, he had a chance meeting of a young college student, Gaston Maspero, who would become his understudy, then a professional colleague, and eventually, upon his failing health, stepping in his shoes as the Director of Egyptian Antiquities Services. Much of his documentation was destroyed in a flood, yet he published several pieces, which included “Abydos” in 1869, “Survey of History of Egypt” in 1874, and in 1889 edited by Gaston Maspero, “The Mastabas of the Old Kingdom.” He wrote a draft and drew costume sketches for the plot for the Italian composer Giuesppe Verdi's opera “Aida,” which premiered on December 24, 1871 at Cairo's Khedivial Opera House and today, is still being performed there. Dating from 1871 to 1874 all six volumes of his “Denderah” or “Mariette Bey” can be found online in a free pdf showing his hand-drawn illustrations of images that have later suffered damage or degradation, hence his drawings, which were before photography, are the only remaining documentation of these ruins. For this reason, he is considered an Egyptian scholar. With a full statue resting on top, he was interred in a sarcophagus in the courtyard at the museum. There is also a full statue of him in his hometown. Highest honors were showered on him: The Legion of Honor from France and the Medjidie from the Ottoman Empire in 1852; 1st Class Red Eagle of Prussia in 1855; the Italian Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus in 1857: and the Austrian Order of Franz Joseph in 1858. In 1873 the French learned society, the Academy of Inscriptions, decreed to him the biennial prize of 200,000 francs, and in 1878 he was elected a member of the Institute. He was also an honorary member of most of the learned societies of Europe.

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: José L Bernabé Tronchoni
  • Added: 6 Oct 2004
  • Find a Grave Memorial 9562172
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Auguste Mariette (11 Feb 1821–19 Jan 1881), Find a Grave Memorial no. 9562172, citing Egyptian Museum of El Cairo, Cairo, El Qahira, Egypt ; Maintained by Find A Grave .