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Short biography
Henri Frankfort was the eldest son of a Jewish merchant family in the Netherlands. He was educated at the Hogere Burger School, a commercial high school, instead of the humanities-centered gymnasium, because he was expected to inherit and run the family business. However, friends convinced his father to allow him to attend university. Frankfort went to the University of Amsterdam, where he studied Greek, literature, and history, and met Henriette Antonia "Jettie" Groenewegen, a fellow student. They became engaged in 1920. Before their marriage, the couple traveled to England so he could study under the famous Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie at University College London. Frankfort earned a master's degree and in 1922, made his first trip to the Near East as a member of Petrie's expedition at Qau el-Kebir. Frankfort returned to London in 1923, married Jettie Groenewegen, and completed his second M.A. The couple spent 1924-1925 in Athens, where Frankfort worked on his doctoral dissertation at the British School of Archaeology. In 1925, at age 28, he was made director of excavations for the Egypt Exploration Society at el-Amarna, Abydos, and Armant. At Tell el-Amarna he uncovered the artifacts of Ahkenaten; at Armant he found the spectacular sacred bulls statuary. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Leiden in 1927. Two years later, he was invited to become field director of the Iraq excavations for the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. From 1932, he taught at the Warburg Institute at the University of London and held the chair of Research Professor of Oriental Archaeology at Chicago. The Frankforts spent half of each year in the field, working collaboratively, and lived the other six months in Hampstead, London. They befriended members of the literary and artistic avant-garde such as Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. The Great Depression finally ended the Iraq Expedition in 1937. Frankfort moved to Chicago full-time at the outbreak of World War II. Jettie joined him after volunteering for the Red Cross in Europe. However, Frankfort was never comfortable in the USA, and in 1949 the family returned permanently to England. Frankfort accepted the positions of Professor of Pre-Classical History of the University of London and director of the Warburg Institute. In 1952, he made his final trip to the Near East as a Guggenheim Fellow. He wrote a total of 15 books and monographs and more than 70 articles for journals about ancient Egypt, archaeology, and cultural anthropology. Frankfort fell in love with a Spanish art historian, Enriqueta Harris, whom he married after a divorce from Jettie. Frankfort had completed the text for the volume on ancient non-classical art for the prestigious Pelican History of Art series when he died unexpectedly in 1954. The volume appeared posthumously.
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