Kircher, Athanasius

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Kircher, Athanasius Gender: M
born on 2 May 1602 (greg.) at 03:00 (= 03:00 AM )
Place Fulda, Germany, 50n33, 9e41
Timezone LMT m9e41 (is local mean time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_taucol.18.gif 11°19' s_mo.18.gif s_vircol.18.gif 22°13 Asc.s_piscol.18.gif 17°54'

Athanasius Kircher


German Jesuit scholar and polymath who published around 40 major works, most notably in the fields of Oriental studies, geology, and medicine. Kircher has been compared to Leonardo da Vinci for his enormous range of interests, and has been honored with the title "Master of a Hundred Arts". A resurgence of interest in Kircher has occurred within the scholarly community in recent decades.

Kircher claimed to have deciphered the hieroglyphic writing of the ancient Egyptian language, but most of his assumptions and translations in this field were later found to be nonsensical. He did, however, correctly establish the link between the ancient Egyptian and the modern Coptic languages, and some commentators regard him as the founder of Egyptology. Kircher was also fascinated with Sinology and wrote an encyclopedia of China, in which he noted the early presence there of Nestorian Christians while also attempting to establish links with Egypt and Christianity that modern scholars regard as largely imaginary.

Kircher's work in geology included studies of volcanos and fossils. One of the first people to observe microbes through a microscope, Kircher was ahead of his time in proposing that the plague was caused by an infectious microorganism and in suggesting effective measures to prevent the spread of the disease. Kircher also displayed a keen interest in technology and mechanical inventions; inventions attributed to him include a magnetic clock, various automatons and the first megaphone. The invention of the magic lantern is often misattributed to Kircher, although he did conduct a study of the principles involved in his Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae.

A scientific star in his day, towards the end of his life he was eclipsed by the rationalism of René Descartes and others. In the late 20th century, however, the aesthetic qualities of his work again began to be appreciated.

He died on 27 November 1680.

Link to Wikipedia biography


Source Notes

Sy Scholfield quotes P. Conor Reilly's book, "Athanasius Kircher S. J.: Master of a Hundred Arts, 1602-1680" (Edizioni del Mondo, 1974), p. 24: "I was born at three o'clock on the morning of the second of May, the feast of ST. ATHANASIUS, 1602."


  • Vocation : Humanities+Social Sciences : Linguist
  • Vocation : Science : Biology
  • Vocation : Science : Geology