George Smith (Biographical details)

George Smith (curator; British; Male; 1840 - 1876)

Also known as

Smith, George


Archaeologist. Born in Chelsea, 26 March 1840. Aged 14 was apprenticed to Messrs Bradbury & Evans of Bouverie Street where he intended to learn banknote engraving. Spent much of his leisure time in the British Museum galleries where he was noticed by Samuel Birch (q.v.), Keeper of Oriental Antiquities, and eventually employed as a "repairer" of cuneiform tablets. Began sorting tablet fragments, copying and collating proofs, famously recognising the "Flood" tablet. Sponsored by 'The Daily Telegraph' to find more fragments at Nineveh and therefore excavated on behalf of the British Museum particularly in the areas of the South-west Palace [of Sennacherib], North Palace [of Ashurbanipal], Nabu & Ishtar Temples on the mound of Kuyunjik at Nineveh in May-June 1873 and January-March 1874; the approximate location of his other smaller-scale excavations on Kuyunjik are mentioned in his 1874 article. During his 1874 season he also excavated at Nimrud for a month, and acquired a small number of finds during visits to other sites. He published a popular account on these investigations. He conducted a third season in 1876 but afterwards died in Aleppo, 19 August 1876, en route to England, and thus these investigations remain unpublished.

His published accounts include: "Account of Recent Excavations and Discoveries made on the Site of Nineveh", Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology', 3 (1874), pp. 446-64; 'Assyrian Discoveries', London 1875.


E.A.W. Budge, 'The Rise and Progress of Assyriology', London: Martin Hopkinson & Co, (1925), pp.106-120, portrait opposite p.188.