ATHANASIUS KIRCHER (1602-1680)
A Jesuit scholar, professor. He was born in Geisa in Germany, and took his vows as a member of the Society of Jesus at Paderborn in 1620. In 1630 Kircher became a professor of philosophy, mathematics, and Oriental languages at Wurzburg. He produced the first Coptic grammar and lexicon in a Western language, which are considered major works in the field of Coptic studies. Kircher tried and failed to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics. However, he aroused interest in ancient Egypt.
His Coptic studies were of immense importance in the 1630s and 1640s. His Prodromus Coptus sive Aegyptiacus (Coptic or Egyptian Forerunner, 1636) and Lingua Aegyptiaca Restituta (The Restored Egyptian Language, 1643) were successful and became primary sources for Coptic studies at least for two centuries.