Kurt Heinrich Sethe

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Kurt Heinrich Sethe.

Kurt Heinrich Sethe (30 September 1869 – 6 July 1934) was a noted German Egyptologist and philologist from Berlin. He was a student of Adolf Erman. Sethe collected numerous texts from Egypt during his visits there and edited the Urkunden des ægyptischen Altertums which is a standard catalogue of Ancient Egyptian literature and text.

Among Sethe's many contributions to Egyptology, two are singled out by Gardiner (p. 433): "...the pronunciation of Middle Egyptian... The chief authorities to be consulted are Sethe's great work on the Egyptian verb, and a much later brilliant article entitled Die Vokalisation des Ägyptischen in Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft"" (1923). Actually, Sethe was the first one to put forth a systematic theory of the Egyptian verb; it was no easy accomplishment, since the inflection of the Egyptian verb was done mainly by changing the vowels, and the Egyptians only wrote consonants.

Among Sethe's students were Hans Jakob Polotsky and Alan Gardiner. Sethe's anthology, Aegyptische Lesestuecke, is still doing sterling service to the beginners in the study of the language. Sethe also published a comprehensive collection of Egyptian epigraphy, which he called Urkunden der Aegyptologie.


  • Kurt Sethe: Das aegyptische verbum im altaegyptischen, neuaegyptischen und koptischen, Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1902.
  • Kurt Sethe: Urkunden des Alten Reichs (= Urkunden des ägyptischen Altertums. Abteilung 1). 1. Band, 4. Heft. 2., augmented edition, Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, Leipzig 1933, available online.
  • Sethe (Kurt Heinrich) at the Wayback Machine (archived February 4, 2012) at 2terres.hautesavoie.net
  • Gardiner, Alan. Egyptian Grammar. Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs. 3rd Ed., Rev. London: Oxford University Press, 1957 (1st ed. 1927).

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