Wilhelm Spiegelberg

Wilhelm Spiegelberg (25 June 1870, Hannover – 23 December 1930, Munich) was a German Egyptologist. He specialized in analyses of Demotic and hieratic text.

Spielberg grew up as the second oldest of four brothers in a German Jewish family. He studied Egyptology and archaeology in Strasbourg and Berlin, obtaining his doctorate from the University of Strasbourg in 1891. As a student his influences included Johannes Dümichen, Adolf Michaelis and Adolf Erman. After graduation, he continued his education in Paris as a student of Gaston Maspero. In 1899 he became an associate professor at Strasbourg, where in 1907 he obtained a full professorship. In 1919 he relocated to the University of Heidelberg, and four years later succeeded Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing as chair of Egyptology at the University of Munich.[1]

Starting in 1894, he took part in excavatory work in Egypt, most notably at the Necropolis of Thebes.[1] Around 1900 he began work at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, serving as a cataloger and editor of Demotic material.[2] Spiegelberg made important contributions towards the deciphering of Demotic script and in the field of Demotic lexicography.[1]

During his tenure at Munich, he accompanied novelist Thomas Mann to Egypt, where he provided assistance towards the drafting of Mann's "Joseph" tetralogy.[1][3] In 1919 he became a member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences (a non-resident member since 1923), and from 1924, was a full member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.[2][4]

Selected works

  • Studien und Materialien zum Rechtswesen des Pharaonenreiches der Dynastien XVIII–XXI, Hannover 1892 (dissertation) – Studies on the law of the Pharaohs of the dynasties XVIII–XXI.
  • Geschichte der ägyptische Kunst bis zum Hellenismus, 1903 – History of Egyptian art up until the Hellenistic period.
  • Der aufenthalt Israels in Aegypten im lichte der aegyptischen monumente, 1904.
  • Elephantine-Papyri, 1907 (with Otto Rubensohn; Wilhelm Schubart) – Elephantine papyri.
  • Die schrift und sprache der alten Ägypter, 1907 – The script and language of the ancient Egyptians.
  • Koptisches Handwörterbuch, 1921 – Coptic pocket dictionary.
  • Demotische Papyri, Heidelberg 1923 – Demotic papyri.
  • Demotische grammatik, 1925 – Demotic grammatics.[5][6]


  1. Wilhelm Spiegelberg @ NDB/ADB Deutsche Biographie
  2. Statement based on translated text of an equivalent article at the German Wikipedia.
  3. Google Books Joseph and His Brothers: The Stories of Jacob, Young Joseph, Joseph in Egypt, Joseph the Provider
  4. Institut d'Egyptologie de Strasbourg Wilhelm Spiegelberg. A memoir by his son, Herbert Spiegelberg.
  5. OCLC WorldCat Identities published works
  6. de. Wikisource extensive bibliography
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