Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo


Archaeologist and numismatist, born at Daler near Tönder, near the west coast of northern Schleswig, 20 December, 1755; died in Rome, 10 February, 1809. His father, whose family came originally from Northern Italy, was Christian Zoega, Protestant pastor of Vilhad; his mother was Henriette Clausen. When a boy Jörgen was taught at home, and then attended the gymnasium at Altona. He went in 1773 to the University of Göttingen and later to Leipzig, studying philosophy and the Classics. Repeated journeys to Italy developed the interest for archaeology which had awakened early in him. In 1782, by the good offices of the Danish minister Guldberg, he received for two years a pension from the State. From Vienna, where he studied under the celebrated numismatist Eckhel, Zoega went to Rome early in 1783. Through introductions he received here a kindly welcome from Stefano Borgia, then a prelate and later cardinal. On his way home Zoega heard at Paris of the political overthrow of his patron Guldberg. He, therefore, returned to Rome, and took up his permanent abode in the Eternal City, which a man, as he said, should never see or else never leave. He had before this catalogued and exhaustively described Borgia's fine collection of coins ; the prelate now gave him hearty support and Pius VI granted him a pension of 400 scudi. With the aid of influential friends Zoega also received permanent assistance from Denmark, and in 1790 was made an honorary member of the Academy of Art at Copenhagen. When his patron, Cardinal Borgia, was exiled from Rome in 1798, Zoega, grateful for the cardinal's hospitality to Danes who had gone to Rome, obtained a pension for Borgia from the state revenues of Denmark. From 1798 Zoega was Danish consul at Rome and a member of the Academy of Sciences at Copenhagen. His labours in numismatics led him to take up Egyptological and Coptic studies, which he carried on with success. By his power of penetration and sound judgment he pointed out to later investigators the path to be followed in the interpretation of hieroglyphics. He is regarded as the associate of Winckelmann and Visconti in establishing scientific archaeology. His services to learning were also acknowledged in foreign countries by his election in 1806 to membership in the Academies of Science at Berlin and Vienna.

Zoega's most important works are: "Nummi aegyptii imperatorii" (Rome, 1787); "De origine et usu obeliscorum" (Rome, 1797); "Bassirilievi antichi di Rome " (2 vols., Rome, 1808), translated into German by Welcker (1811); "Catalogus codicum copticorum manuscriptorum, qui in musco Borgiano Velitris adservantu" (Rome, 1810), a posthumous work. He also wrote several treatises on classical archaeology, translated into German by Welcker, "Georg Zoegas Abhandlungen" (Gottingen, 1817). A work on the topography of Rome was left unfinished in manuscript.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Daily Readings for Saturday, May 28, 2016
  • WARNING: Exorcist claims demon is targeting families
  • Daily Reading for Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 HD Video
  • Woman diagnosed with 'nightmare bacteria' in US
  • Advent Prayer HD Video
  • Bl. Margaret Pole: Saint of the Day for Saturday, May 28, 2016
  • Your Daily Inspirational Meme: He will never leave you

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Peter 4:7-13
7 The end of all things is near, so keep your minds calm and sober for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:10, 11-12, 13
10 Say among the nations, 'Yahweh is king.' The world is set firm, it ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 11:11-26
11 He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and when he had ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 27th, 2016 Image

St. Augustine of Canterbury
May 27: At the end of the sixth century anyone would have ... Read More