Stanford has acquired the library of one of the foremost Egyptologists of the 20th century.
The collection of Wolja Erichsen (1890-1966), now at Stanford's Green Library, documents more than 1,500 years of Egyptian history, ranging from about 650 B.C. to about A.D. 1000. It includes Egypt's important transition from paganism to Christianity.
"The Erichsen library is one of the most significant and perhaps the last great Egyptology library in private hands," said Joe Manning, associate professor of classics. "It is difficult to overestimate the importance of acquiring this collection. Stanford's acquisition adds great momentum to our research and strengthens our profile as one of the very best places in the world to study ancient Mediterranean civilizations."
Manning, speaking at an Oct. 15 reception to celebrate the acquisition, emphasized that this contribution from the "heroic age" of Egyptology, which peaked between 1880 and 1920 and was centered in Berlin, is "a huge deal."
"The gift of a library is not the sexiest thing in the world—people prefer to build buildings—but this is much more important," he said, to laughter and scattered applause.
Erichsen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen, was a specialist in demotic Egyptian, the script and language of Egypt from 650 B.C. to A.D. 200, and Coptic, the last stage of the ancient Egyptian language that has particular importance for the study of early Christianity, especially since Egypt was the location of the earliest organized church.
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