Maksimilian Ryllo: the first researcher of Babylon
Maksimilian Ryllo was born on December 31, 1802 in Padarosk (now Svislach area, Grodno region) in poor gentry family. He graduated from high school in the rural municipality Lyskava then studied in Polatsk Jesuit Academy where he got a degree of Master of Philosophy. In 1820 he entered the University of Vilna. At the end of the this year the Jesuits were prohibited in Russia and Maksymilian went to Rome, where he entered the Gregorian University. Later he became Professor of Philosophy. For ten years he studied theology and rhetoric, philosophy, law and poetics, learned European languages.
In 1836 Maksymilian Ryllo went to Lebanon and then to Mesopotamia to the archaeological site. He became a pioneer and the first researcher of the ruins of ancient Babylon because systematic archaeological excavations there began only in the late XIX century.
In 1837 Maksymilian Ryllo returned to Rome and presented to the Vatican museum a rich collection of archaeological artifacts from Babylon. He was elected to the Pontifical archaeological Academy. In 1839 Maksymilian Ryllo went to the Middle East as the head of the Jesuit mission in Syria. During this period, he founded the educational institution in Beirut with the printing, library, workshops, classrooms and museums, where hundreds of boys were educated. In 1875 this institution was transformed into the University of Beirut (still exists today) and Ryllo is known as its founder.
In 1846 Pope Pius IX appointed Ryllo the apostolic vicar to Central Africa in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. In early 1847 Ryllo arrived in Cairo and despite his illness went on a boat trip to the headwaters of the Nile and then to Khartoum on camels. Next year he made a trip to Cairo and Alexandria (Egypt). He described his impressions in a travel diary and went to Paris.
Maksymilian Ryllo died on June 17, 1848 and was buried in Khartoum. In 1900 his remains were moved with great ceremony to Cairo and were buried in the famous ancient cemetery Al-Matar.