Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres is a French learned society devoted to the humanities, founded in February 1663 as one of the five academies of the Institut de France.



The Académie originated as a small council of humanists, a committee of specialists that included "scholars who were the most versed in the knowledge of history and antiquity." It was founded by King Louis XIV's finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert as the Académie royale des Inscriptions et Médailles, and permanently renamed to the Académie royale des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in January 1716. It was first charged with composing or otherwise obtaining the Latin inscriptions to be written on the public monuments and on medals issued to celebrate the events of Louis' reign. Its broader goal was to elevate the prestige of the French monarchy using physical symbols uncovered or recovered through the methods of classical erudition. The Académie was made an official state institution on the King's decree in 1701.


In the words of the Académie's charter, it is:

primarily concerned with the study of the monuments, the documents, the languages, and the cultures of the civilizations of antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the classical period, as well as those of non-European civilizations.

The Volney Prize is awarded by the Institut de France, based on the proposal of the Académie. It publishes Mémoires.

Prominent members



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