Bedřich Hrozný

Bedřich Hrozný

[hrawz-nee]

Bedřich (Friedrich) Hrozný (May 6, 1879December 12, 1952) was a Czech orientalist and linguist. He deciphered the ancient Hittite language, identified it as an Indo-European language and laying the grounds to Hittitology. Though of Czech origin, he published his work in German or French.

Hrozný was born in Lysá nad Labem, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. In the town of Kolín he learned Hebrew and Arabic, at the University of Vienna Akkadian, Aramaic, Ethiopian, Sumerian and Sanskrit, as well as the cuneiform used in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Persia. He also studied orientalism at Humboldt University of Berlin.

In 1906, at Hattusa (modern Boğazköy, about 200 km east from Ankara) a German expedition found the archives of the Hittite kings in cuneiform, but in an unknown language. In 1917, Hrozný published a description of the language and its grammar showing that it was an Indo-European language. In 1925 Hrozný discovered 1000 cuneiform tablets containing contracts and letters of Assyrian merchants.

Later he tried to decipher hieroglyphic script used by Hittites and scripts used in ancient India and Crete but failed in his effort. A heart attack in 1944 ended his scientific work.

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