Prof. F. LL. Griffith


FRANCIS LLEWELLYN GRIFFITH, whose death at the age of seventy-one years occurred on March 14, was, like a number of other distinguished Englishmen, the son of a clergyman, the Rev. John Griffith, who was for many years rector of Sandridge, Herts, and a mathematician of some repute. After being educated at Brighton College, Sedbergh and Highgate, he came up to Oxford as a scholar of Queen's College, where, under the influence of Prof. A. H. Sayce, he began those studies which were destined to win him later a world-wide fame. He took his B.A. degree in 1884, and during the winter seasons of that and the three following years he was engaged in excavation and other research work in Egypt under the leadership of Petrie and Naville. For some months of the season 1886-87 he was busy copying the inscriptions in the tombs of the First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom at Asyt and Dr. Refeh. His publication of these texts (“The Inscriptions of Asyt and Dr Refeh”, 1889) not only shows that even at this early date he had acquired a sound knowledge of Middle Egyptian, but already displays that scholarliness and meticulous accuracy which are so characteristic of all his subsequent work. From 1888 until 1896, Griffith was an assistant in the Department of British and Mediaeval Antiquities in the British Museum. In 1892 he was made assistant professor of Egyptology at University College, London, a post which he retained until he was appointed reader of Egyptology at Oxford in 1901. During those years his output was remarkable both for quantity and quality, its crowning achievement being the publication in two volumes of Petrie's great find of papyri at Kahun and Gurob. Most of these are documents written in the cursive business hieratic of the Middle Kingdom, a script of which there had hitherto been found few, if any, examples. In his mastery of this difficult script and in his interpretation of the contents of the documents, Griffith showed that he possessed that rare gift-real genius. Many years have passed since those two volumes appeared, and there has been a great advance in our knowledge of Middle Egyptian grammar and syntax, but even so, Griffith's translations and transcriptions need comparatively few corrections.

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