The Rosetta Stone and Leipzig

Georg Steindorff (1861-1951), professor of Egyptology at the University of Leipzig (from 1894), once tried to bring a copy of the stone of Rosette to Berlin with the help of Sir Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge, at that time curator of the British Museum. He was in London to make enquiries. However, the plan was never realised.

How do we know about this? The source of this are letters from Georg Steindorff which he wrote from London to his teacher and superior at the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, Adolf Erman. Steindorff worked there as assistant to Erman, together with the papyrologist Ulrich Wilcken. As far as we know, this was a real dream-team!

In the archive of the Egyptian Museum of the University of Leipzig (ÄMULA), in a letter dated to the 10th of November 1892, Steindorff writes to Erman that Budge approved the plaster cast of the stone and of a head from the Middle Kingdom for Berlin. Further details can not be found in the archive. However, even until today there are rumors that Leipzig University owns a copy of the Rosetta Stone. We can ascertain for sure that no such plaster cast exists. Apart from this, the Institute of Near Eastern Studies and the Museum of Classical Antiquities house many replicas from the Ancient World.

Our German translations of the Hieroglyphic, Demotic and Greek versions of the Rosetta Stone were basically done by Heinz-Josef Thissen (1940-2014), professor at the Seminar for Egyptology at the University of Cologne, Germany. His academic legacy, in particular his extensive Egyptian and papyrological library, was donated through his will to the Egyptological Institute of the University of Leipzig. During his career, he was strongly connected to Leipzig, working closely together with various colleagues and in numerous projects. He also co-supervised numerous emerging scholars from Leipzig during their dissertation or habilitation, among them Ludwig Morenz, Tonio Sebastian Richter, Katharina Stegbauer and Franziska Naether. While alive,  lifetime, he thankfully shared his work on the Rosetta Stone with us for which we are very grateful and hope to live up to his legacy.