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Athanasius Kircher

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From the longer Wikipedia page [1] - which contains an extensive coverage of the literature by and on him.

Athanasius Kircher (1601 or 1602–1680) (sometimes erroneously spelled Kirchner) was a 17th century German Jesuit scholar who published around 40 works, most notably in the fields of oriental studies, geology, and medicine. Kircher has been compared to fellow Jesuit Roger Boscovich and to Leonardo da Vinci for his enormous range of interests, and has been honoured with the title "master of a hundred arts".

Kircher was the most famous "decipherer" of hieroglyphs (Wikipedia page [2]) of his day, although most of his assumptions and "translations" in this field have since been disproved as nonsensical. However, he did make an early study of Egyptian hieroglyphs, correctly establishing the link between the ancient Egyptian language and the Coptic language, for which he has been considered the founder of Egyptology. He was also fascinated with Sinology, and wrote an encyclopedia of China, in which he noted the early presence of Nestorian Christians but also attempted to establish more tenuous links with Egypt and Christianity.

Kircher was sent the Voynich Manuscript in 1666; sent to him by Johannes Marcus Marci in the hope of Kircher being able to decipher it. The manuscript remained in the Collegio Romano (now the Pontifical Gregorian University, Wikipedia page [3]) until Victor Emmanuel II of Italy annexed the Papal States in 1870, though scepticism as to the authenticity of the story and of the origin of the manuscript itself exists. In his Polygraphia nova (1663), Kircher proposed an artificial universal language. An image of the letter, now at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, can be found here [4].

A list of his writings can be found here [5], and an article on two hoaxes perpetrated against him is here [6] Details of his correspondence can be found here [7] and here [8] (checked November 2016). (and various other sites)

The Kircherianum Virtuale web index is here [9]. (checked November 2016)

He also had a wide range of scientific and technological interests.

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