Hormuzd Rassam (Biographical details)

Hormuzd Rassam (archaeologist; official; Male; 1826 - 16 September 1910)

Also known as

Rassam, Hormuzd


Archaeologist and later official. Born in Mosul. Father of Mary Rassam (q.v.) and younger brother of Christian Anthony Rassam (q.v.). who had served as the principal interpreter to Lt. Col. Chesney's Euphrates Expedition of 1835-37, served as British Vice Consul at Mosul from 31 December 1839 until his death in 1872, and who carried out spasmodic excavations at Nineveh (July-October 1849, April-May 1851, May-October 1851, October 1851-March 1852, October 1852-April 1854). Hormuzd Rassam began his own archaeological career as an assistant to Austen Henry Layard (q.v.) and went on to excavate himself at Nineveh (1878, 1879, 1880), Nimrud (1878, 1879, 1880), Assur (1878, 1880), Balawat (1878), Babylon (1879, 1880), Dailem (1880), Tell ed-Der (1880), Abu Habba or ancient Sippar (January 1881 - October 1882), Birs Nimrud (1880), and Tell Ibrahim (1881-82) in Mesopotamia, as well as Van in eastern Turkey; posted to Aden as a political interpreter (1854), where he served with his brother-in-law and East India Company chaplain, Rev. George Percy Badger, for eight years under William Marcus Coghlan (q.v.); Hormuzd Rassam later played a leading role with Lieutenant-Colonel W.F. Prideaux (q.v.), Third Assistant Resident at Aden, in the controversial British dispute with Emperor Theodore II of Ethiopia (r. 1855–68) which resulted in the burning of the Ethiopian capital at Magdala.

He retired to Brighton, and published a popular account of his discoveries in the book 'Asshur and the Land of Nimrod', New York: Eaton & Mains, 1897. His excavation papers are held in the Central Archives in the British Museum. An oil portrait of Rassam by A. Ackland Hunt is held by the Department of the Middle East at The British Museum, which had been given by Rassam's daughter, Mary Rassam (q.v.), to Brighton and Hove Museum (q.v.).


DNB (Second Supplement), vol. III: 'Neil-Young', pp. 158-61, London: Smith, Elder & Co 1912 (edited by Sir Sidney Lee); C.B.F. Walker & D. Collon, "Hormuzd Rassam's excavations for the British Museum at Sippar in 1881-1882", 'Tell ed-Der III: Sounding at Abu Habbah (Sippar)' (L. de Meyer, ed.), Leuven: Peeters (1980), pp. 93-114, pls 25-29; J.E. Reade in E. Leichty, 'Tablets from Sippar', London: BMP; J. Reade, "Hormuzd Rassam and his Discoveries", 'Iraq' 55 (1993), pp. 39-62, including plates; Nicole Chevalier, 'La recherche archéologique française au moyen-orient 1842-1947', Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 2002, p. 55.
Useful archival material in Rassam, Inventories and reports of Antiquities, 1878-1882 (ANE archives shelfmark 188.2)