History of Classical Archaeology in Giessen
Archaeology as a subject has a long tradition in Giessen. Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker (1784-1868) founded a chair for “Greek Literature and Archaeology” as early as 1809. It is the first time the term “archaeology” appears in Germany for the designation of a chair. However, the subject is strongly philological oriented, and as early as 1812, an independent Philological Seminar was founded thanks to Welcker’s engagement. In 1816 Welcker went to the University of Göttingen, in 1819 to Bonn. The collection of castings he set up there, led to the establishment of an “Academic Museum of Art” in Giessen in 1826, which was renamed the “Cabinet of art, Coins and Antiquities” in 1835.
Little is known about the inventory of the cabinet due to the loss of all archive papers during the Second World War. Apart from the collection of coins from the 18th century, it also consolidates, among others, Lippert’s Dactyliotheca, which has survived to this day, and a number of castings of ancient sculptures. Although the collection was used extensively for drawing exercises, there was no true continuity for archaeological teaching until the end of the 19th century. In 1887, Ferdinand Dümmler (1859-1896) came to Giessen and habilitated here after many years in Greece and Italy.
However, he had almost no opportunity to work archaeologically but held mainly lectures and seminars in Ancient Philology instead. In 1889 Dümmler was appointed associate professor, but as early as in 1890 he accepted a call to Basel.
The habilitation of Bruno Sauer (1861-1919) in 1892 constituted the actual foundation of Classical Archaeology in Giessen. As a private lecturer, Sauer also supervised the collection of antiquities, which since 1898 bears the name “Archaeological Institute”. In the same year, Sauer became a tenured professor and represented not only Classical Archaeology but also the History of Arts. Only when he accepted a call to Kiel in 1909, the subjects Classical Archaeology and History of Arts were split into two chairs. Sauer has made a great contribution to the Collection of Antiquities. Most of today’s inventory was incorporated into the collection through purchases and donations under his ordinariate. He also expanded the collection of castings systematically; however, this section of the collection was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War. After Sauer accepted the call to the University of Kiel in 1909, it was Carl Watzinger (1877-1948), who came to Giessen from Rostock and taught here until 1916. Under his leadership, the young institute kept growing. Watzinger continued to expand the Collection of Antiquities and had the collection of castings restored and rearranged. His successor was Gerhart Rodenwaldt (1886-1945) who had previously been Georg Loeschke’s assistant in Berlin. Margarete Bieber filled in for him for some time there when he was conscripted in the First World War. Rodenwaldt and Bieber were together on the travel grant of the German Archaeological Institute in 1909/10, and when Rodenwaldt was called to Giessen in 1916 - not taking office until 1917 because of the turmoil of the war– he advocated for Margarete Bieber who became the first woman to habilitate in Giessen in 1919. In 1922 Rodenwaldt was appointed General Secretary (President) of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. His successor was Richard Delbrueck (1875-1957), who had been the director of the DAI in Rome until 1915. Under Delbrueck, Margarete Bieber (1879-1978) was appointed associate professor.
When Delbrueck followed a call to Bonn in 1928, however, the Ordinariate was cancelled from financial reasons, and Bieber was charged with substituting it. Bieber was no longer able to take on the ordinariate promised to her in the fall of 1933, as she was let go in the spring of 1933 because of her Jewish descent.
Through England, she emigrated into the USA, where she worked until old age. As a late redemption, Margarete Bieber was named honorary senator of the University Giessen in 1957. After Bieber’s dismissal in 1933, it was initially Hans Möbius who represented the Classical Archaeology for one semester, until Walter-Herwig Schuchhardt, who had habilitated in Frankfurt and covered for Hans Schrader there, came to Giessen with a teaching assignment. Schuchhardt followed a call to Freiburg in 1936. His successor in 1937 was Willy Zschietzschmann (1900-1976) who had habilitated under Rodenwaldt in Berlin in 1932. Initially, he only taught with a teaching assignment, then as an associate professor. In 1939 Zschietzschmann was able to expand the Collection of Antiquities through acquisitions considerably. It is due to his prudence that the collection of originals survived the Second World War almost without any losses and remained in possession of the university afterwards. After the war, Zschietzschmann was entrusted with the provisional administration of the institute and received a lectureship until 1969. Only in 1964, the Institute, then called “Department for Classical Archaeology,” was occupied again. In just a few years, Walter Hatto Gross (1913-1984) laid the foundation for a viable institute, not least thanks to the support of his assistant Siemer Oppermann, who worked in Giessen until 1999, most recently as Academic Director. Gross himself followed a call to Hamburg in 1968. His successor was Hans-Günter Buchholz (1919-2011) in 1969 who taught here until 1985. Together with his assistant Wilhelm Hornbostel, he brought the scattered antiquities collection back together. The focus of his term of office was the Aegean Bronze Age, and with his many years of excavations in Tamassos, he continued the old German researches Ohnefalsch-Richter on Cyprus. Wolfram Martini (1941-2017) taught in Giessen from 1985 until 2006.
In addition to his research focus in the field of Greek sculpture and Attic vase painting, it is especially the excavations on the Acropolis of Perge (Turkey) since 1994 that characterise his research and teaching in Giessen. Since 1987, a part of the Collection of Antiquities has been publicly accessible for the first time in the Wallenfels House. Especially through private donations, Martini has until recently been able to expand the Collection of Antiquities significantly, so that it also plays an important role in teaching.
Anja Klöckner succeeded Wolfram Martini in April 2007. She followed a call to Frankfurt/Main in 2016. Her successor is Katharina Lorenz, previously a professor in Nottingham, who assumed office in 2018.
M. Recke, Die Klassische Archäologie in Gießen. 100 Jahre Antikensammlung. (Classical Archaeology in Giessen. 100 years Collection of Antiquities). Studia Giessensia 9 (2000)