"Hans" Frankfort's Earlier Years
Based on his Letters to "Bram" van Regteren Altena
1995 (Lectiones Orientales vol. 3)
It was Henry Frankfort (1897-1954) who put Near Eastern archaeology on the map as a field of methodical scholarship. The present biographical sketch, based on the letters he wrote almost daily to "Bram" van Regteren Altena, throws light on some less known aspects of his life; the extraordinary stimulus he received from Altena and other young intellectuals he befriended, and the mystic pantheism that became his creed early in life.
More important than the quantity of information that we owe to him is the quality of empathy that he brought to the understanding of ancient civilizations as far removed from ours as those of Egypt and Mesopotamia. His letters show he believed it was possible to relive the emotions of long ago and interpret them for us.