William Kennett Loftus (Biographical details)

William Kennett Loftus (archaeologist; scientist/engineer; British; Male; 1820 - 1858)

Also known as

Loftus, William Kennett


Geologist and archaeologist from Newcastle, who was appointed to the Turco-Persian Frontier Commission in 1849, for which he served until 1852 under the orders of Colonel (later Major-General) Sir William Fenwick Williams (1800-1883), who later became renowned as "the hero of Kars". Loftus excavated at Susa (1850/51), Nineveh (May 1854-March 1855), Uruk/Warka (January-February 1850, January-April 1854), Jidr (1854, Pahlavi inscribed bricks), Khan-i Kyaya (1854; Pahlavi inscribed bricks) and other sites in Babylonia. Visited a number of sites including Ur (1850), Fara (1854; acquired an Egyptian amulet), Nippur (second time in 1854), Zibliyat (1854). His travels in Iran included visits to Persepolis and Taq-i Bustan (with Joseph Olguin (q.v.) in summer 1850), at both of which sites he left his name as a graffito. In 1858 Loftus resumed excavations in Mesopotamia on behalf of the Assyrian Excavation Fund. The British Museum holds collections of antiquities from these different excavations although there has been some confusion in the 19th century as to which season and site some of them derived.

Author of: "Notes of a journey from Baghdad to Busrah, with descriptions of several Chaldaean remains", 'Journal of the Royal Geographic Society' 26 (1856), pp. 131-53; "On the excavations undertaken at the ruins of Susa in 1851-2", 'Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature', V (1856/57), pp. 422-53; 'Travels and researches in Chaldaea and Susiana' (London 1857).


J. E. Curtis, "Loftus' Parthian cemetery at Warka", 'Akten des VII. Internationalen Kongresses für Iranische Kunst und Archäologie, München 7.-10. September 1976', pp. 309-317, Berlin: Reimer, 1979; J.E. Curtis, "William Kennet Loftus and his Excavations at Susa", 'Iranica Antiqua' 28, pp. 1-55 (translated version published as "Les fouilles de W.K. Loftus à Suse", pp. 36-45 in N. Chevalier, ed., Une mission en Perse, 1897-1912', Paris: RMN, 1997).