Auguste Barth

Portrait of Auguste   Barth

Marie-Etienne-Auguste Barth (22 March 1834, Strasbourg — 15 Apr 1916, Audierne, France) was a secondary school teacher in his native Alsace (in Bouxwiller) when he started to study ancient Indian literature and Sanskrit by himself. Within less than two decades, the self-taught Indianist became one of the most respected French Orientalists, notably after the publication of his two major studies, Les religions de l’Inde (Religions of India) and Inscriptions sanscrites du Cambodge et de Champa.

Member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, he was appointed to the exploratory commission for the establishment of the Mission archéologique de l’Indochine, prefiguration of the École Francaise d’Extreme-Orient, supervising one of the first major EFEO publications, Bas-reliefs du Bayon. He also became a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1896.

In the obituary dedicated to this illustrious scholar, Louis Finot reproduced the letter Auguste Barth sent to Felix Faraut regarding the latter’s interpretation of some Khmer inscriptions.