The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Kircher, Athanasius

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KIRCHER, Athanasius, a German scholar, born near Fulda, Hesse-Cassel, May 2, 1602, died in Rome, Nov. 28, 1680. He was educated at the university of Würzburg, where he afterward taught philosophy and the oriental languages. After the invasion of Franconia by the Swedes in the thirty years' war he retired to France, and passed two years in the Jesuits' college at Avignon. He then went to Rome, where he was for eight years professor of mathematics. His most important works are: Prodromus Coptus sive Ægyptiacus (Rome, 1636); Lingua Ægyptiaca Restituta (1644); and Latium (Amsterdam, 1671), with valuable maps and plans. He was a voluminous writer on mathematical and physical science, and his Mundus Subterraneus (2 vols., 1664-'8) comprises all the geological knowledge of the day. He made many philosophical inventions, and collected a celebrated museum of instruments, models, natural objects, and antiquities, for the Jesuit college at Rome. This was described by Sepi (Amsterdam, 1679), and by Buonanni under the title Museum Kircherianum (fol., Rome, 1709; new ed. by Battara, 1773).