1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Klaproth, Heinrich Julius

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KLAPROTH, HEINRICH JULIUS (1783–1835), German Orientalist and traveller, was born in Berlin on the 11th of October 1783, the son of the chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth (q.v.). He devoted his energies in quite early life to the study of Asiatic languages, and published in 1802 his Asiatisches Magazin (Weimar, 1802–1803). He was in consequence called to St Petersburg and given an appointment in the academy there. In 1805 he was a member of Count Golovkin’s embassy to China. On his return he was despatched by the academy to the Caucasus on an ethnographical and linguistic exploration (1807–1808), and was afterwards employed for several years in connexion with the academy’s Oriental publications. In 1812 he moved to Berlin; but in 1815 he settled in Paris, and in 1816 Humboldt procured him from the king of Prussia the title and salary of professor of Asiatic languages and literature, with permission to remain in Paris as long as was requisite for the publication of his works. He died in that city on the 28th of August 1835.

The principal feature of Klaproth’s erudition was the vastness of the field which it embraced. His great work Asia polyglotta (Paris, 1823 and 1831, with Sprachatlas) not only served as a résumé of all that was known on the subject, but formed a new departure for the classification of the Eastern languages, more especially those of the Russian Empire. To a great extent, however, his work is now superseded. The Itinerary of a Chinese Traveller (1821), a series of documents in the military archives of St Petersburg purporting to be the travels of George Ludwig von ———, and a similar series obtained from him in the London foreign office, are all regarded as spurious.

Klaproth’s other works include: Reise in den Kaukasus und Georgien in den Jahren 1807 und 1808 (Halle, 1812–1814; French translation, Paris, 1823); Geographisch-historische Beschreibung des östlichen Kaukasus (Weimar, 1814); Tableaux historiques de l’Asie (Paris, 1826); Mémoires relatifs à l’Asie (Paris, 1824–1828); Tableau historique, geographique, ethnographique et politique de Caucase (Paris, 1827); and Vocabulaire et grammaire de la langue géorgienne (Paris, 1827).