Christian archeology

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Christian Archeology is the science, which was originally the material legacy of Christians examined the early centuries as historical sources. Today it has expanded into an archaeological discipline that deals with all areas of late ancient culture.

Originating in Rome in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance in view of the preserved early Christian church buildings and the recurring excavation finds, she gradually expanded her field of work to the entire world Christianized in antiquity . In the course of historicism , Christian archeology also adopted the historical-critical method and increasingly uses artifacts from profane and non-Christian contexts to explain its objects . This leads to overlaps with the neighboring disciplines of Prehistory and Early History , Early Medieval and Byzantine Archeology and Art History, which in turn use Christian monuments for their own activities. Since stepping out of the theological faculties in the Philosophical Faculties in the 1970s, this has naturally resulted in delimitation difficulties, which arise in the affiliation of the chairs to different institutes (e.g. Bonn : Archeology , Leiden : Classical Archeology and Medieval Archeology , Münster : Classical Archeology, Munich : Byzantine Studies ) and their fluctuating names.

historical development

The legendary search for the cross of Christ in Jerusalem by Helena , mother of Constantine I , can be seen as the beginning of these efforts . Christian archeology developed as a separate discipline when, at the beginning of the Renaissance, in the course of the search for evidence of antiquity, the early Christian churches in Rome also found interest ( Giovanni Dondi [1318–1389], Iter Romanum ; Poggio Bracciolini [1389–1459], De fortunae varietate urbis Romae ; Maffeo Vegio [1407–1458], De rebus antiquis memorabilibus S. Petri Romae ), Christian inscriptions as well as pagan inscriptions were collected ( Jan Gruyter [Janus Gruterus, 1560–1627]; Raffaele Fabretti [1620–1700]) , the catacombs were rediscovered and scholars such as Antonio Bosio (1575–1629), Giovanni Ciampini (1633–1698), Filippo Buonarruoti (1661–1733), Marco Antonio Boldetti (1663–1749) and others the material initially from Rome, but then also from other centers (e.g. Ravenna: Antonio Zardini [1725–1785], De antiquis sacris Ravennae aedificiis ) made accessible in richly illustrated collections. In addition, local historians also researched the Christian monuments of their hometowns in the smaller centers of Italy, France, Spain and Germany.

With the Histoire de l'art par les monuments, depuis sa décadence au IVe siècle jusqu'à son renouvellement au XVIe (1823) by the French Jean Baptiste Louis Georges Seroux d'Agincourt (1730-1814), an art-historical overall representation of the monuments was attempted .

The improved travel opportunities since the beginning of the 19th century, as in classical archeology, brought the expansion to the exploration of the art landscapes and ruins of the Middle East, and from the 2nd half of the century also North Africa. Giuseppe Marchi (1795–1860) and Giovanni Battista de Rossi (1822–1894) continued their research into Roman monuments, and in 1871–1881 Raffaele Garrucci (1812–1885) published his six-volume Storia dell'arte cristiana nei primi otto secoli della chiesa , Joseph Wilpert (1857–1944) used modern printing processes for his elaborate corpora of Roman catacomb paintings, sarcophagi and church mosaics and wall paintings.

In the academic training of theologians in the 19th century, Christian archeology, mostly together with Christian art history , remained predominantly an appendage to church history . The flourishing of historical disciplines in the course of historicism also benefited Christian archeology. In Rome, Anton de Waal (1837–1917) at Campo Santo Teutonico gave young theologians the opportunity to specialize in Christian archeology; In 1901, the church historian Franz Xaver Kraus (1840–1901) endowed an institute and a chair for Christian archeology in the Protestant Theological Faculty of the Berlin University, where Ferdinand Piper had previously done, from his own fortune in the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Freiburg had taught the subject of "monumental theology", an extraordinary professorship for Christian archeology and church art was established in 1913. With Ludwig von Sybel (1846–1929), traditional art history also turned to early Christian art ( Christian antiquity. Introduction to early Christian art [1906/1909]). In 1925, the Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana was founded in Rome as a training center with faculty rank.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the increase in knowledge and the refinement of methods by Franz Joseph Dölger (1879–1940), Theodor Klauser (1894–1984), Johannes Kollwitz (1903–1968), Friedrich Wilhelm Deichmann (1909–1993) ensured and many others for making the subject independent, which was also expressed in the fact that chairs for Christian archeology are also being established in the philosophy faculties. Today it is an independent subject in close proximity to church history, classical archeology and art history.

International congresses for Christian archeology have been held since 1894, more recently, if possible, every five years.

Institutes at German universities




  • Roman quarterly for Christian antiquity and church history (since 1887)
  • Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας (since 1892)
  • Rendiconti della Pontificia Accademia di Archeologia (since 1921)
  • Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana (since 1924)
  • Dumbarton Oaks Papers (since 1941)
  • Yearbook for Antiquity and Christianity (since 1958, supplementary volumes are published at irregular intervals)
  • Communications on Christian Archeology (since 1995, ISSN  1025-6555 )
  • Communications on Late Antiquity Archeology and Byzantine Art History (since 1998)


  • L'Année philologique ( IV. Sources non littéraires. A. Archeology, e) Aires culturelles, Le monde tardo-antique and B. Épigraphie. f) Epigraphie chrétienne )
  • Archaeological Bibliography - Dyabola - ZENON
  • Byzantine Journal (Section III: Bibliographic Notes and Communications)


  • Franz Xaver Kraus : About the concept, scope, history of Christian archeology and the importance of monumental studies for historical theology . Herder, Freiburg 1879 (a brief sketch that categorizes the contributions of more than 300 researchers into the historical development from the 16th century to 1878).
  • Carl Andresen : Introduction to Christian Archeology . Göttingen 1971. (= The Church in its History Volume 1, Delivery B, Part 1) Google Books .
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Deichmann : Introduction to Christian Archeology . Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1983. ISBN 3-534-06797-5 .
  • Hugo Brandenburg : Archeologia Cristiana , in: Dizionario patristico e di antichità cristiane vol. 1. Casale Monferato 1983, pp. 317-330.
  • Wolfgang A. Bienert , Guntram Koch : Church history I, Christian archeology . Stuttgart 1989. ( Basic course theology 3; Urban pocket books 423) ISBN 3-17-010555-8 .
  • Heinrich Laag : Small dictionary of early Christian art and archeology (Reclam Knowledge Volume 8633). Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-15-008633-7 .
  • Mirror of a science. On the history of Christian archeology from the 16th to the 19th century represented by authors and books . An exhibition of the Christian Archaeological Seminar in the Bonn University Library September - December 1991. Bonn 1991.
  • Josef Engemann : Archeology II. Christian archeology . In: Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche , 3rd edition, Vol. 1. Freiburg 1993, Sp. 943–945.
  • Guntram Koch : Early Christian Art. An introduction . Stuttgart u. a. 1995 ( Urban Pocket Books 453). ISBN 3-17-011400-X .
  • William Frend : The Archeology of Early Christianity. A history . London, Geoffrey Chapman 1996. ISBN 0-225-66850-5 .
  • Achim Arbeiter Christian Archeology . In: The New Pauly. Enzyklopädie der Antike , Vol. 13, Reception and Research History A-Fo , Stuttgart, Weimar 1999, Sp. 640–646.
  • Susanna Partsch : Early Christian and Byzantine art (= art epochs 1). Stuttgart 2004 ( Reclams Universal Library 18168). ISBN 3-150-18168-2 .
  • Sebastian Ristow : Christian Archeology - Yesterday and Today. In: Pictures of the Past. On the history of the archaeological subjects (= writings of the teaching and research center for the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean 2). Wiesbaden 2005, pp. 215–245.
  • Wolfgang Wischmeyer : Through emancipation to transdisciplinarity. From Christian Archeology to Late Antique and Early Byzantine Art Studies and Archeology . In: Theologische Literaturzeitung 131, 2006, Sp. 817-832.
  • Urs Peschlow : Christian Archeology - Byzantine Archeology and Art History . In: Jeorjios Martin Beyer (Ed.): Archeology. From treasure hunt to science . Mainz 2010, pp. 192-203.
  • Rainer Warland : Christian archeology. The discovery of "late" antiquity and the beginnings of a material cultural history of Byzantium. In: Freiburger Universitätsblätter 192, 2011, pp. 111–122.
  • Reiner Sörries : Christian archeology compact. A topographical overview: Europe - Asia - Africa . Reichert, Wiesbaden 2011, ISBN 978-3-89500-792-7 .
  • Reiner Sörries: Late Antiquity and Early Christian Art. An introduction to the study of Christian archeology (= UTB art history , volume 3521), Böhlau Verlag, Cologne 2013, 978-3-8252-3521-5, review by Florian Sonntag in H-Soz-u-Kult [1] .

See also

Web links