Borchardt, Ludwig

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BORCHARDT, LUDWIG (1863–1938), German Egyptologist and archaeologist. Borchardt's outstanding career as an Egyptologist rested on his knowledge of architecture as well as Egyptian language. Born and educated in Berlin, he became assistant to the department of Egyptian art in the Berlin Museum. In 1895 he left for Egypt where he examined details in important excavations, and was thus able to revise the interpretation of typical Egyptian building complexes. He was the first to recognize that the pyramid formed an integral part of the temple area. He excavated several pyramids and published monographs on their origin and development. His study of the ancient Egyptian column types and their development helped him to work out the complicated archaeological history of the great temples at Thebes. The structure of the early Egyptian house became the subject of Borchardt's research at the time of his excavations of Tell el-Amarna, the town in which Pharaoh Amenophis iv–Akhenaton (1379–1362 b.c.e.) had lived. In the course of these excavations, he uncovered the workshops of the royal sculptor Thutmose, with many naturalistic portrait models, among them the world-famous painted limestone model head of Queen Nefertiti. Numerous excavations and publications testify to the continuous industry of Borchardt. In 1906 he founded the German Institute for Ancient Egyptian History and Archaeology (Deutsches Institut fuer aegyptische Altertumskunde) in Cairo and was its director until World War i and from 1923 until 1929. Borchardt played an important role in the planning and organization of the great Catalogue Général des Antiquités Egyptiennes du Musée du Caire (1897ff., still unfinished). Later he became interested in the question of the identification of Atlantis, the lost continent, which he suggested (at a conference of the Paris Atlantidean Society, 1926) should be identified with Baḥr Atala, i.e., "Sea of Atlantis," submerged c. 1250 b.c.e., in the northern Sahara, south of Tunis. Among his many publications are Die aegyptische Pflanzensaeule (1897); Zur Baugeschichte des Amonstempels von Karnak (1905); Portraets der Koenigin Nofret-ete aus den Grabungen 1912–13 in Tell el-Amarna (1923); Die Enstehung der Pyramide, an der Baugeschichte der Pyramide bei Mejdum nachgewiesen (1928); and Die Entstehung des Generalkatalogs und seine Entwicklung in den Jahren 1897–99 (1937).

[Penuel P. Kahane]