Cyrus H Gordon
- Category : 1908-births
- Type : ME
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Small (55)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Service 2
American scholar of Near Eastern cultures and ancient languages, well known for his books on Ugaritic, the ancient language of 14th century (BC/BCE) coastal Syria, which were first published in 1940. He played a key role in deciphering that language.
He spent the first half of the 1930s in the Near East working out of both Baghdad and Jerusalem as an American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) fellow.
During World War II, Gordon served in the U.S. military, volunteering for the Army in 1942, at the age of 33. As the head of a new cryptanalysis team, Gordon and other linguists used their collective skills in deciphering and analyzing coded languages. The Nazis and the Japanese sent coded messages, not just in German and Japanese, but also in such languages as Arabic, Turkish, and Persian. Gordon later remarked that his cryptography work for the U.S. Army provided him with the tools he later used in his work with the Minoan script designated Minoan Linear A. Later in the war, Lieutenant Gordon was assigned to the Middle East, serving in the Mediterranean, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, and eventually in Iran. There he learned to speak Modern Persian.
During his career at NYU from 1973 to 1989, he taught classes and seminars and published work in a wide range of fields. These include: field archaeology, glyphic art, cuneiform law, the Amarna letters, the Bible, Hebrew language, Ugaritic, Aramaic magic bowls, Nuzi tablets, Minoan Linear A, Homer, Egyptology, Coptic, Hittite, Hurrian, Sumerian, and Classical Arabic.
Gordon's autobiography, A Scholar's Odyssey, won a 2000 award from the Jewish Book Council. Cyrus H. Gordon died on 30 March 2001, aged 92.