JAROSLAV CERNY (1898-1970)

A Czech Egyptologist. He was born in Pilsen and studied at Charles University in Prague under Frantisek Lexa and at Berlin under Adolf ERMAN. He obtained his doctorate at Prague in 1922 with a thesis on the workmen of DAYR AL-MADINAH, near Thebes, whom he firmly identified as the builders of the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. From 1925 to 1946 he was associated as epigraphist with the excavations of the French Institute at Dayr al-Madinah. From 1929 to 1946 he was a lecturer in Egyptology at Charles University.

He published countless ostraca, graffiti, and connected with the workmen’s community. From 1925 he also collaborated with Sir Alan Gardiner on the publication of hieratic texts. After World War II, he held various professorships in England and the United States. His interest in grammar led him into a detailed study of Coptic etymology. His bibliography in Egyptology is extensive, and his major contribution to Coptic studies is his Coptic Etymological Dictionary (Cambridge, 1976). His papers are now in the Griffith Institute, Oxford, while his library was left to Charles University. He died in Oxford.


  • Bulletin de la Société française d’égyptologie 58 (1970):4.
  • James, T. G. H. “Jaroslav Cerny.” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 57 (1971):185-89 (with portrait).
  • Spaull, C. H. S. “Bibliography of Jaroslav Cerny.” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 54 (1968):3-8.