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Wallis Budge

E. A. Wallis Budge
Born (1857-07-27)27 July 1857
Bodmin, Cornwall
Died 23 November 1934(1934-11-23) (aged 77)
London
Nationality British
Fields Egyptology, philology

Sir Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge (27 July 1857 – 23 November 1934) was an English Egyptologist, Orientalist, and philologist who worked for the British Museum and published numerous works on the ancient Near East.

Earlier life

E.A. Wallis Budge was born in Bodmin, Cornwall, to Mary Ann Budge, a young woman whose father was a waiter in a Bodmin hotel. Budge's father has never been identified. Budge left Cornwall as a young man, and eventually came to live with his grandmother and aunt in London.[1]

Budge became interested in languages before he was ten years old, but given that he left school at the age of twelve in 1869 to work as a clerk at the firm of W.H. Smith, it was only in his spare time that he studied Hebrew and Syriac with the aid of a volunteer tutor named Charles Seeger. Budge became interested in learning the ancient Assyrian language in 1872, when he also began to spend time in the British Museum. Budge's tutor introduced him to the Keeper of Oriental Antiquities, the pioneer Egyptologist Samuel Birch, and Birch's assistant, the Assyriologist George Smith. Smith helped Budge occasionally with his Assyrian, whereas Birch allowed the young man to study cuneiform tablets in his office and obtained books of Middle Eastern travel and adventure such as Sir Austen Henry Layard's Nineveh and Its Remains for him to read from the British Library.

From 1869 to 1878 Budge spent whatever free time he had from his job at W.H. Smith studying Assyrian, and he often walked down to St. Paul's Cathedral over his lunch break to study during these years. When the organist of St. Paul's, John Stainer, noticed Budge's hard work, he decided to help the boy to realize his dream of working in a profession that would allow him to study Assyrian. Stainer contacted W.H. Smith, a Conservative Member of Parliament, and the former Liberal Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, and asked them to help his young friend. Both Smith and Gladstone agreed to help Stainer to raise money for Budge to attend Cambridge University, where Budge later studied Semitic languages, including Hebrew, Syriac, Ethiopic and Arabic from 1878 to 1883, continuing to study Assyrian on his own. Budge worked closely during these years with the famous scholar of Semitic languages William Wright, among others.[2]

Career at the British Museum

Budge entered the British Museum in the renamed Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities in 1883, and though he was initially appointed to the Assyrian section, he soon transferred to the Egyptian section, where he began to study the ancient Egyptian language with Samuel Birch until the latter's death in 1885. Budge continued to study ancient Egyptian with the new Keeper, Peter le Page Renouf, until Renouf's retirement in 1891.

Between 1886 and 1891, Budge was deputed by the British Museum to investigate why it was that cuneiform tablets from British Museum sites in Iraq, which were supposedly being guarded by local agents of the Museum, were showing up in the collections of London antiquities dealers. The British Museum was purchasing these collections of their own tablets at inflated London market rates, and the Principal Librarian of the Museum, Edward Bond, wished Budge to find the source of the leaks and to seal it. Bond also wanted Budge to establish ties to Iraqi antiquities dealers to buy whatever was available in the local market at much reduced prices. Budge also travelled to Istanbul during these years to obtain from the Ottoman government a permit to reopen the Museum's excavations at these Iraqi sites in order to obtain whatever tablets remained in them.

During his years in the British Museum, Budge also sought to establish ties with local antiquities dealers in Egypt and Iraq so that the Museum would be able to obtain antiquities from them without the uncertainty and cost of excavating—a decidedly 19th century approach to building a museum collection. Budge returned from his many missions to Egypt and Iraq with enormous collections of cuneiform tablets, Syriac, Coptic and Greek manuscripts, as well as significant collections of hieroglyphic papyri. Perhaps his most famous acquisitions from this time were the beautiful Papyrus of Ani, a copy of Aristotle's lost Constitution of Athens, and the Tell al-Amarna tablets. Budge's prolific and well-planned acquisitions gave the British Museum arguably the best Ancient Near East collections in the world, and the Assyriologist Archibald Sayce remarked to Budge in 1900, ". . . What a revolution you have effected in the Oriental Department of the Museum! It is now a veritable history of civilization in a series of object lessons . . ."[3]

Budge became Assistant Keeper in his department after Renouf retired in 1891, and was confirmed as Keeper in 1894, a position in which he remained until 1924, specializing in Egyptology. Budge and the other collectors for the museums of Europe regarded having the best collection of Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities in the world as a matter of national pride, and there was tremendous competition for Egyptian and Iraqi antiquities among them. These museum officials and their local agents smuggled antiquities in diplomatic pouches, bribed customs officials, or simply went to friends or countrymen in the Egyptian Service of Antiquities to ask them to pass their cases of antiquities unopened. During his tenure as Keeper he was noted for his kindness and patience in teaching young visitors to the British Museum.[4] He was one of only two people that Mike the famous cat of the British Museum would allow to feed him.[5]

Literary and social career

Budge was also a prolific author, and he is especially remembered today for his works on ancient Egyptian religion and his hieroglyphic primers. Budge's works on Egyptian religion were unique in his contention that the religion of Osiris had emerged from an indigenous African people: "There is no doubt", he said of Egyptian religions in Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection (1911), "that the beliefs examined herein are of indigenous origin, Nilotic or Sundani in the broadest signification of the word, and I have endeavoured to explain those which cannot be elucidated in any other way, by the evidence which is afforded by the Religions of the modern peoples who live on the great rivers of East, West, and Central Africa . . . Now, if we examine the Religions of modern African peoples, we find that the beliefs underlying them are almost identical with those Ancient Egyptian ones described above. As they are not derived from the Egyptians, it follows that they are the natural product of the religious mind of the natives of certain parts of Africa, which is the same in all periods."

Budge's contention that the religion of the Egyptians was essentially identical to the religions of the people of northeastern and central Africa was regarded by his colleagues as impossible, since all but a few followed Flinders Petrie in his contention that the culture of Ancient Egypt was derived from an invading Caucasian "Dynastic Race" which had conquered Egypt in late prehistory and introduced the Pharaonic culture.

Budge's works were widely read by the educated public and among those seeking comparative ethnological data, including James Frazer, who incorporated some of Budge's ideas on Osiris into his ever-growing work The Golden Bough. Budge was interested in the paranormal and believed in the reality of spirits and hauntings. Budge had a number of friends in the Ghost Club (British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ghost Club Archives), a group in London committed to the study of alternative religions and the spirit world, and told his many friends stories of hauntings and other uncanny experiences. Many people in his day who were involved with the occult and spiritualism after losing their faith in Christianity were dedicated to Budge's works, particularly his translation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which was very important to such writers as the poet William Butler Yeats and James Joyce. Budge's works on Egyptian religion have remained consistently in print since they entered the public domain.

Budge was a member of the literary and open-minded Savile Club in London, proposed by his friend H. Rider Haggard in 1889, and accepted in 1891. He was a much sought-after dinner guest in London, his humorous stories and anecdotes being famous in his circle. He enjoyed the company of the well-born, many of whom he met when they brought to the British Museum the scarabs and statuettes they had purchased while on holiday in Egypt. Budge never lacked for an invitation to a country house in the summer or to a fashionable townhouse during the London season.[6]

Though Budge's books remain widely available, since his day both translation and dating accuracy have improved, leading to significant revisions. The common writing style of his era—a lack of clear distinction between opinion and incontrovertible fact—is no longer fashionable in scholarly works.

Budge was knighted in the 1920 New Year Honours for his distinguished contributions to Egyptology and the British Museum.[7] In the same year he published his sprawling autobiography, By Nile and Tigris. He retired from the British Museum in 1924, and lived on until 1934, continuing to publish book after book. His last work was From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt (1934).

Lady Wallis Budge Junior Research Fellowship

In his will, Budge established the Lady Wallis Budge Junior Research Fellowships and graduate scholarships at Cambridge and Oxford Universities that continue to this day to support young Egyptologists at the beginning of their research careers.

In popular culture

  • The novelist H. Rider Haggard dedicated his novel Morning Star (1910) to Budge.
  • Budge is mentioned briefly in the movie Stargate as the author of several outdated books on Egyptian hieroglyphs.
  • Budge is frequently mentioned, though he appears "on-stage" only once, in the Amelia Peabody series of mystery novels by "Elizabeth Peters" (Egyptologist Dr. Barbara Mertz). In Amelia's husband Emerson's dogmatic opinion, Budge is a poor archaeologist and an unscrupulous plunderer of Egypt. The same novels also refer to Flinders Petrie, who never appears on-stage, as a scrupulous, scientific archaeologist and rival to Emerson. Dr. Mertz refers in passing to some of Petrie's eccentric personal habits.
  • The children's writer E. Nesbit dedicated her classic novel The Story of the Amulet (1906) to Budge.
  • Budge appeared as a major character in the 2006 History Channel docudrama The Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Selected works by Wallis Budge

  • 1885. Religious Tract Society)
  • 1885. The Sarcophagus of Ānchnesrāneferȧb, Queen of Ȧḥmes II, King of Egypt. (Whiting and Co., London)
  • 1888. The Martyrdom and Miracles of St. George of Cappodocia: The Coptic Texts, (D. Nutt, London)
  • 1889. Easy Lessons in Egyptian Hieroglyphics with Sign List, London; 2nd ed. c. 1910.Egyptian Language: Easy Lessons in Egyptian Hieroglyphics with Sign List. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company, Limited. Reprinted London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Limited, 1966; Reprinted New York: Dover Publications, 1983)
  • 1891 Babylonian Life and History, The Religious Tract Society, London
  • 1893. . (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company, Limited)
  • 1894. The Mummy: A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Reprinted New York: Dover Publications, 1989)
  • 1895. The Book of the Dead: The Papyrus of Ani in the British Museum; the Egyptian Text with Interlinear Transliteration and Translation, a Running Translation, Introduction, etc.[London]: British Museum. (Reprinted New York: Dover Publications, 1967)
  • 1895
  • 1896
  • 1896
  • 1897. The Laughable Stories Collected by Mar Gregory John Bar-Hebraeus, (reprinted Gorgias Press, 2004, ISBN 1-59333-123-1)
  • 1899
  • 1899. Egyptian Magic. (London, Kegan Paul. Reprinted New York, Citadel Press, 1997)
  • 1900. Egyptian Religion. (London. Reprinted New York, Bell Publishing, 1959)
  • 1902. A History of Egypt from the End of the Neolithic Period to the Death of Cleopatra VII, B.C. 30: Egypt and her Asiatic Empire. (Henry Frowde -Oxford University Press, American Branch, New York)
  • 1904. The Gods of the Egyptians, or, Studies in Egyptian Mythology. 2 vols. (London: Methuen & Co. ltd. Reprinted New York: Dover Publications, 1969)
  • 1904. The Book of Paradise: Being the Histories and Sayings of the Monks and Ascetics of the Egyptian Desert. 2 vols. (London, 1904)
  • 1904. The Decrees of Memphis and Canopus, in three volumes; volume 1, The Rosetta Stone. Books on Egypt and Chaldaea, vol. 17. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company, Limited, 1904.)
  • 1904. The Decrees of Memphis and Canopus, in three volumes; volume 2, The Rosetta Stone. Books on Egypt and Chaldaea, vol. 18. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company, Limited, 1904.)
  • 1904. The Decrees of Memphis and Canopus, in three volumes; volume 3, The Decree of Canopus. Books on Egypt and Chaldaea, vol. 19. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company, Limited, 1904.)
  • 1905. The Egyptian Heaven and Hell. 3 vols. Books on Egypt and Chaldaea 20–22. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company, Limited. Reprinted New York: Dover Publications., 1996)
  • 1907. The Egyptian Sudan, Its History and Monuments. (London, Kegan Paul Reprint New York, AMS Press, 1976).
  • 1907. The Nile: Notes for Travellers in Egypt. (Thos. Cook & Son, London (10th Ed.)
  • 1908. Dynasties XX-XXX (Vol. II) Books on Egypt and Chaldaea 23–24. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company, Limited. Reprinted New York: AMS Press, 1976)
  • 1910: Egyptian Language. Easy Lessons in Egyptian Hieroglyphics, with Sign List. Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., London and Dover Publications Inc. New York City, Tenth Impression 1970.
  • 1911. . (London: P. L. Warner. Reprinted New York: Dover Publications, 1973)
  • 1912 Legends-Of-The-Gods includes-The Legend of the destruction of mankind .(London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company, Limited)
  • 1913. The Papyrus of Ani: A Reproduction in Facsimile. The Medici Society, Ltd., London
  • 1914. Coptic Martyrdoms etc. In Dialect of Upper Egypt,(Vol. 1). British Museum.
  • 1914. Coptic Martyrdoms etc. In Dialect of Upper Egypt,(Vol. 2). British Museum.
  • 1920. By Nile and Tigris: A Narrative of Journeys in Egypt and Mesopotamia on Behalf of the British Museum Between the Years 1886 and 1913. 2 vols. (London, John Murray. Reprinted New York: AMS Press, 1975).
  • 1920. An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, With an Index of English Words, King List and Geographical List with Index, List of Hieroglyphic Characters, Coptic and Semitic Alphabets, etc.. (London: John Murry. Reprinted New York: Dover Publications., 1978)
  • 1922. The Queen of Sheba & her only son Menyelek; being the history of the departure of God & His Ark of the covenant from Jerusalem to Ethiopia, and the establishment of the religion of the Hebrews & the Solomonic line of kings in that country.( London, Boston, Mass. [etc.] The Medici Society, limited.)
  • 1928. The Divine Origin of the Craft of the Herbalist. London, The Society of Herbalists (Reprinted New York, Dover Books, 1996)
  • 1928. A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia. (Reprinted Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970)
  • 1929. The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum: The Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic Texts of the Decree Inscribed on the Rosetta Stone Conferring Additional Honours on Ptolemy V Epiphanes (203–181 B.C.) with English Translations and a Short History of the Decipherment of the Egyptian Hieroglyphs, and an Appendix Containing Translations of the Stelae of Ṣân (Tanis) and Tall al-Maskhûṭah. London: The Religious Tract Society. (Reprinted New York: Dover Publications, 1989)
  • 1929. Mike, The cat who assisted in keeping the main gate of the British Museum from February 1909 to January 1929, R. Clay & Sons, Ltd., Bungay, Suffolk
  • 1932a. The Chronicle of Gregory Abû'l Faraj, 1225–1286, the Son of Aaron, the Hebrew Physcian, Commonly Known as Bar Hebraeus; Being the First Part of His Political History of the World, Translated from Syriac. 2 vols. London: Oxford University Press. (Reprinted Amsterdam: Apa-Philo Press, 1976)
  • 1932b. The Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son, Menyelek (I); Being the "Book of the Glory of Kings" (Kebra Nagast), a Work Which is Alike the Traditional History of the Establishment of the Religion of the Hebrews in Ethiopia, and the Patent of Sovereignty Which is Now Universally Accepted in Abyssinia as the Symbol of the Divine Authority to Rule Which the Kings of the Solomonic Line Claimed to Have Received Through Their Descent from the House of David; Translated from the Ethiopic. 2nd ed. 2 vols. (London: Oxford University Press.)
  • 1934. From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press (Reprinted New York, Dover Books, 1988)
  • 1934. The Wit and Wisdom of the Christian Fathers of Egypt. (Oxord, 1934)

See also

Notes

Further reading

  • British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ghost Club Archives, Add. 52261 (http://www.bl.uk/collections/manuscriptsnamedg.html)
  • Budge, E.A. Wallis. 1920. By Nile and Tigris. 2 vols. London, John Murray.
  • Drower, Margaret. Flinders Petrie: A Life in Archeology (Madison, WI, 1995; 2nd ed.).
  • Ismail, Matthew. 2011. Wallis Budge: Magic and Mummies in London and Cairo (Glasgow: Hardinge Simpole).
  • Morrell, Robert. 2002. "Budgie…": The Life of Sir E. A. T. Wallis Budge, Egyptologist, Assyriologist, Keeper of the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum, 1892 to 1924. Nottingham: [privately published]

External links

Open-texts
  • The Gods of the Egyptians by E. A. Wallis Budge HTML formatted with images
  • The Book of the Dead translated by E. A. Wallis Budge — online and fully illustrated
  • Egyptian ideas of the future life: Egyptian religion. The Nile: notes for travellers in Egypt1890.The Decrees of Memphis and Canopus 1904. Tutankhamen 1923.By Nile and Tigris: a narrative of journeys in Egypt and Mesopotamia on behalf of the British Museum between the years 1886-1920.The book of the kings of Egypt1908.A short history of the Egyptian people: with chapters on their religion, daily life, etc. 1914.An Account Of The Sarcophagus Of Seti I, King Of Egypt, B.C. 1370 1908. The gods of the Egyptians: or, Studies in Egyptian mythology 1904.A history of Egypt from the end of the Neolithic period to the death of Cleopatra VII, B.C. 30 190 .The Nile, notes for travellers in Egypt1893.The dwellers on the Nile, or, Chapters on the life, literature, history, and customs of the ancient Egyptians 1885.Cook's handbook for Egypt and the Sûdân 1906. The Paradise Or Garden of the Holy Fathers: Being Histories of the Anchorites, Recluses, Monks .. 1907. Tutankhamen, Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian monotheism, with hieroglyphic texts of hymns to Amen and Aten1 edition 1923.The mummy1893.Egyptian magic 1899.Osiris and the Egyptian resurrection 1911.
  • Project GutenbergThe Babylonian Legends of the Creation. The Babylonian Story of the Deluge as Told by Assyrian Tablets from Nineveh. The Book of the Dead. Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life.Legends of the Gods. The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians.
Others
  • British Museum
  • An Egyptologist's explanation why one should be cautious using Budge's work
  • E. A. Wallis Budge's Obituary for Mike The British Museum Cat, Time Magazine, 20 January 1930
  • Coptic Martyrdoms etc. In Dialect of Upper Egypt,Volume 1,Edited with English Translation By E. A. Wallis Budge. British Museum, 1914
  • Coptic Martyrdoms etc. In Dialect of Upper Egypt,Volume 2,Edited with English Translation By E. A. Wallis Budge. British Museum, 1914

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