Born on 26th of March 1840
Died on 19th of August 1876
Smith, from a humble background and with limited formal education, became in his brief life an Assyriologist of some note. While apprenticed as a banknote engraver he used his spare time to study at the British Museum, fascinated by Assyrian history and culture. He was co-opted to work on fragments in the Museum’s collection, and was eventually employed by the Museum in 1870. His discoveries included an inscription about an eclipse that helped establish a time frame for other events in Assyrian history; and most famously what we now refer to as The Epic of Gilgamesh. He died aged 36 near Aleppo while on an archaeological expedition.
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