Ember, Aaron

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EMBER, AARON (1878–1926), U.S. Orientalist and Egyptologist. Born in Kovno, Lithuania, Ember migrated to the U.S. in 1891. From 1904 to 1910 he worked as a fellow of Semitics at Johns Hopkins University and from 1911 was assistant professor (professor 1924) in its Semitics department. His studies in Ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, Arabic, and Ethiopic led him to seek an earlier form of proto-Semitic in Egyptian, which he came to regard as the oldest Semitic language. He died as a result of a fire in his house in which his wife and child also perished. His papers, which were partially destroyed, were partly published by Cyrus Adler in the Paul Haupt Anniversary Volume (1926), in a chapter entitled "Partial Assimilation in Old Egyptian" (pp. 300–12), where Ember discussed the phonological relationship of Egyptian to Semitic languages and his theory that abstract terms developed from a concrete basis. The book also includes a biographical sketch of Ember. In 1930 a manuscript that survived the fire was published as A. Ember, Egypto-Semitic Studies. Its publication was due in large part to the efforts of Ember's former teacher, the great Egyptologist Kurt Sethe of Berlin. Ember took an active part in the Jewish community of Baltimore. For many years he was a director of the Baltimore Talmud Torah and of the Isaac Davidson School and helped to found the Jewish Public Library there. He was also an ardent Zionist and assisted the Hebrew University Library, Jerusalem.


H. Loewe, Aaron Ember (Ger., 1926); K. Sethe, in: Zeitschrift fuer aegyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde, 4 (1926), 130–1. add. bibliography: O. Sellers, in: ajsl, 50 (1934), 109–10.