1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mariette, Auguste Ferdinand François

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MARIETTE, AUGUSTE FERDINAND FRANÇOIS (1821–1881), French Egyptologist, was born on the 11th of February 1821 at Boulogne, where his father was town clerk. Educated at the Boulogne municipal college, where he distinguished himself and showed much artistic talent, he went to England in 1839 when eighteen as professor of French and drawing at a boys’ school at Stratford-on-Avon. In 1840 he became pattern-designer to a ribbon manufacturer at Coventry; but weary of ill-paid exile he returned the same year to Boulogne, and in 1841 took his degree at Douai. He now became a professor at his old college, and for some years supplemented his salary by giving private lessons and writing on historical and archaeological subjects for local periodicals. Meanwhile his cousin Nestor L’Hôte, the friend and fellow-traveller of Champollion, died, and upon Mariette devolved the task of sorting the papers of the deceased savant. He thenceforth became passionately interested in Egyptology, devoted himself to the study of hieroglyphs and Coptic, and in 1847 published a Catalogue analytique of the Egyptian Gallery of the Boulogne Museum; in 1849, being appointed to a subordinate position in the Louvre, he left Boulogne for Paris. Entrusted with a government mission for the purpose of seeking and purchasing Coptic, Syriac, Arabic and Ethiopic MSS. for the national collection, he started for Egypt in 1850; and soon after his arrival he made his celebrated discovery of the ruins of the Serapeum and the subterraneous catacombs of the Apisbulls. His original mission being abandoned, funds were now advanced for the prosecution of his researches, and he remained in Egypt for four years, excavating, discovering and despatching archaeological treasures to the Louvre, of which museum he was on his return appointed an assistant conservator. In 1858 he accepted the position of conservator of Egyptian monuments to the ex-khedive, Ismail Pasha, and removed with his family to Cairo. His history thenceforth becomes a chronicle of unwearied exploration and brilliant success. The museum at Bula was founded immediately. The pyramid-fields of Memphis and Sakkara, and the necropolis of Meydum, and those of Abydos and Thebes were examined; the great temples of Dendera and Edfu were disinterred; important excavations were carried out at Karnak, Medinet-Habu and Deir el-Bahri; Tanis (the Zoan of the Bible) was partially explored in the Delta; and even Gebel Barkal in the Sudan. The Sphinx was bared to the rock-level, and the famous granite and alabaster monument miscalled the “Temple of the Sphinx” was discovered. Mariette was raised successively to the rank of bey and pasha in his own service. Honours and orders were showered on him: the Legion of Honour and the Medjidie in 1852; the Red Eagle (first class) of Prussia in 1855; the Italian order of SS. Maurice and Lazarus in 1857; and the Austrian order of Francis-Joseph in 1858. In 1873 the Academy of Inscriptions decreed to him the biennial prize of 20,000 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. In 1877 his health broke down through overwork. He lingered for a few years, working to the last, and died at Cairo on the 19th of January 1881.

His chief published works are: Le Sérapéum de Memphis (1857 and following years); Dendérah, five folios and one 4to (1873–1875); Abydos, two folios and one 4to (1870–1880); Karnak, folio and 4to (1875); Deir el-Bahari, folio and 4to (1877); Listes géographiques des pylônes de Karnak, folio (1875); Catalogue du Musée de Boulaq (six editions 1864–1876); Aperçu de l’histoire d’Égypte (four editions, 1864–1874, &c.); Les Mastabas de l’ancien empire (edited by Maspero) (1883). See “Notice biographique,” by Maspero in Auguste Mariette. Œuvres diverses (tome 1, Paris, 1904), and art. Egypt: Exploration and Research.