JÉQUIER, GUSTAVE, Swiss archeologist (b. Neuchâtel, 14 August 1868; died there, 24th March 1946; Figure 1). After completing his secondary education at Neuchâtel and attending its university, and after his military service, he initially pursued his academic studies in 1888 in Berlin, where he attended courses given by the Egyptologist Adolf Erman, and embarked on his thesis in the summer of 1890. Later, after some traveling in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and France, he resumed his studies in Paris with another famous Egyptologist, Gaston Maspéro, and received his diploma from the École des Hautes Études under his supervision. At the same time he began his collaboration with Jacques de Morgan (q.v.) in the archeological excavations in Egypt and worked at the following sites: Aswan and Kom-Ombo (1892-93; with Jacques de Morgan); Saqqarah, Sitout, Tell-el-Amarna and Dahchour (1893-94); Licht (1894-95; with J. E.-Gautier); Karnak, Médinet-Habou, and Fayoum (1895-96).
In 1897 he went to Persia as a member of the Délégation scientifique française (see DÉLÉGATION ARCHÉOLOGIQUE FRANÇAISE EN IRAN), directed by Jacques de Morgan, and stayed there until 1902. During these years he excavated hundreds of ancient artifacts at Susa. The most important among these was the third fragment of the Code of Hammurabi, discovered in 1901 during Jéquier’s last excavation campaign (assisted by Louis-Charles Watelin). This discovery made it possible to decipher the entire document, on of the most significant objects belonging to the ancient history of Mesopotamia.
During his five year residence in Persia, Jéquier sent home to his family many letters and accounts of his daily life in Persia and these were compiled and published posthumously as a volume entitled En Perse 1897-1902 (Neuchâtel, 1968) by his son Michel Jéquier. The book provides a vivid description of the archeologist’s travels and daily experiences in Persia, and his excavations and discoveries at Susa, and is therefore most informative about the first five years of the archeological expedition by the French delegation in Persia. The many illustrations, including several photographs taken by Jéquier himself, add further historical value to the book. Upon his return to Europe, Gustave Jéquier worked from 1902 to 1904 in Switzerland and in Paris, publishing the reports of the Archeological Delegation.
From 1904 onwards, he resumed his interest in Egypt and visited the country several times In 1913, he was appointed Professor of Egyptology at the University of Neuchâtel where he taught until 1939 and served twice as dean of the Faculty of Letters. In 1914, he chaired the first international congress of ethnography and ethnology at Neuchâtel. During World War I, as well as pursuing his academic research, he worked for the welfare of the prisoners of war and organized teaching programs for internees. In 1924 he was invited by the Egyptian government to carry out excavations at Saqqarah and for the next twelve years he carried out a very productive series of excavations. He returned to Neuchâtel in 1937 and continued for the rest of his life with his research and active participation with the work of the Museum of Ethnography.
Gustave Jéquier, En Perse 1897-1902, Journal et Lettres de Gustave Jéquier, ed. Michel Jéquier, Neuchâtel, 1968.
It provides a full bibliography of the archeologist’s published works (pp. 187-92).
J. and E. Gran Aymerich “Gustave Jéquier,” Archéologia, 218, Nov. 1986, pp. 75-79.
Originally Published: December 15, 2008
Last Updated: April 13, 2012
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Vol. XIV, Fasc. 6, pp. 629-630