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Clermont-Ganneau, Charles Simon

CLERMONT-GANNEAU, CHARLES SIMON (1846- ), French Orientalist, the son of a sculptor of some repute, was born in Paris on the 19th of February 1846. After an education at the Ecole des Langues Orientales, he entered the diplomatic service as dragoman to the consulate at Jerusalem, and afterwards at Constantinople. He laid the foundation of his reputation by his discovery (in 1870) of the "stele" of Mesha (Moabite Stone), which bears the oldest Semitic inscription known. In 1874 he was employed by the British government to take charge of an archaeological expedition to Palestine, and was subsequently entrusted by his own government with similar missions to Syria and the Red Sea. He was made chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1875. After serving as vice-consul at Jaffa from 1880 to 1882, he returned to Paris as "secrétaire-interprète" for oriental languages, and in 1886 was appointed consul of the first class. He subsequently accepted the post of director of the Ecole des Langues Orientales and professor at the Collège de France. In 1889 he was elected a member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, of which he had been a correspondent since 1880. In 1896 he was promoted to be consul-general, and was minister plenipotentiary in 1906. He was the first in England to expose the famous forgeries of Hebrew texts offered to the British Museum by M.W. Shapira (q.v.) in 1883, and in 1903 he took a prominent part in the investigation of the so-called "tiara of Saïtapharnes." This tiara had been purchased by the Louvre for 400,000 francs, and exhibited as a genuine antique. Much discussion arose as to the perpetrators of the fraud, some believing that it came from southern Russia. It was agreed, however, that the whole object, except perhaps the band round the tiara, was of modern manufacture.

His chief publications, besides a number of contributions to journals, are: - Palestine inconnue (1886), Etudes d'archéologie orientale (1880, etc.), Les Fraudes archéologiques (1885), Recueil d'archéologie orientale (1885, etc.), Album d'antiquités orientales (1897, etc.).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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