Johannes Dorn

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Johannes Dorn (born August 25, 1853 in Haid, today a part of Trochtelfingen ; † March 23, 1925 there ) was a farmer and amateur archaeologist .

Live and act

Johannes Dorn was born in 1853 in the hamlet of Haid near Trochtelfingen on the northern border of Hohenzollern as the son of the farmer Joachim Dorn (1823–1900). The Haid between Trochtelfingen and Großengstingen was a vast, park-like landscape in the 19th century, formed by extensive pasture farming on Almende property . There were a number of prehistoric row graves and burial mounds, which came into the focus of the blossoming antiquity research around the middle of the 19th century. Count Wilhelm von Württemberg , the builder of Lichtenstein Castle , had the burial mounds in the vicinity searched for finds for his private collection, which had been set up at Lichtenstein Castle since the 1850s , under the supervision of his site manager Michael Aberle from Söflingen . The Haid between Großengstingen and Trochtelfingen, only a few hours away from the castle, proved to be particularly productive. Already in the year of birth of Johannes Dorn in 1853, his father can be proven as an excavation worker in the service of the count, and apparently the latter used the opportunity to work as a side job in the following years, with the son accompanying the father to the excavations at a young age. In 1864 the young teacher Eberhard Gfröreis, who had recently come to Großengstingen, joined the count's excavation team, who later made an inventory of the collection on the Lichtenstein.

In 1877 Johannes Dorn was mentioned for the first time as an excavation assistant at a hill opening under the direction of Gfröreis', who in the meantime also worked as an excavator on the Haid on his own account and sold the finds to private collectors and museums. Since 1884, Dorn carried out his excavations on behalf of the former Senate President at the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court and antiquarian Julius von Föhr (1819–1888), both on the Haid and in the area of ​​the Zollernalb. After von Föhr's death, Dorn worked for the antiquities collection in Stuttgart; Until 1899 he sold almost all other finds to the Württemberg State Collection and also dug several times on their behalf. The decisive factor for this connection was obviously the good "connection" to Eduard Paulus , who was active as a state curator in Württemberg between 1873 and 1899 and who headed the Royal Collection of Antiquities from 1892 to 1899. Well over 150 burial mounds and several row grave fields were excavated by Dorn during this time. Between 1891 and 1896 he examined, among other things, numerous burial mounds in what is now the Zollernalb district and primarily hid bronze and amber jewelry as well as decorated clay pots. Dorn's discoveries caused a stir during excavations in the Bronze Age and Iron Age necropolises of Nehren and Dusslingen in 1895 and 1896, where richly decorated graves also contained gold jewelry. In addition, Dorn worked with the Stuttgart anthropologist Hermann Hölder , to whom he made bone finds from his excavations available.

From December 12, 1901 to January 20, 1902, Dorn and four excavation workers examined a row grave field in Gammertingen that had long been known .

Gammertingen helmet

With the discovery and salvage of the unique princely grave , which, among many other gifts, contained an iron chain mail and a gilded ornate helmet, he made a sensational find that made him known beyond the country's borders. The find was acquired for the Princely Collections in Sigmaringen, whose director Johann Walter Gröbbels (1853-1940) personally presented the extraordinary grave in Berlin to his Hohenzollern-Prussian sovereign Kaiser Wilhelm II and published the row grave find from Gammertingen in 1905 with a richly illustrated magnificent publication. As early as 1904, Johannes Dorn, with reference to his Gammertinger find, offered the Berlin Völkerkundemuseum archaeological finds from his holdings for sale. Accompanied by extensive correspondence, Dorn delivered some extensive burial mound finds to Berlin, while the Stuttgart contacts fell asleep after Paulus retired.

In 1905 Peter Goessler took over the management of the antiquities collection in Stuttgart. He criticized Dorn's activity as a digger of ancient soil with fundamental arguments and tried to portray the peasant von der Haid as a greedy dilettante. Goessler was familiar with the latest excavation techniques and documentation methods through excavations with Wilhelm Dörpfeld in Greece; He considered Dorn's routine discovery procedures to be completely unscientific. However, it cannot be overlooked that in the attempt to disembark Dorn, competition for the best sites also played a role, because Dorn's excavations were by no means illegal, and the museum in Sigmaringen and the Hohenzollern collection that was under construction were always open to new additions . Goessler also took hold of it when Dorn offered the State Collection in Stuttgart in 1912, for the first time in years, a rich Bronze Age grave find from Mägerkingen for sale.

The First World War interrupted Dorn's archaeological endeavors. Before the war, he ran a contract threshing and, with the help of his sons, had three mobile steam threshing machines in use. After the sons were moved in, Dorn now had to take care of the agriculture and the family maintenance himself. But in 1921 Dorn was back in archeology. His relationship with the State Collection in Stuttgart had obviously improved because Dorn was now again undertaking excavations on the Haid on their behalf. In the Hohenzollern Lands , his reputation had never suffered anyway, and his relationship with the state curator Wilhelm Friedrich Laur had always remained problem-free. In the last years of his life, Dorn's excavations were limited to the vicinity of the Haid. When a hill opened in the winter of 1925, he contracted pneumonia, which he succumbed to on March 23, 1925.

At the end of the 19th century, Johannes Dorn had a remarkable career as a practical antiquarian researcher, at the limit of modern archaeological excavation technology. The local landscape, which gave him the opportunity to live out his passion, has changed faster than scientific progress could have kept pace with it. This is not least visible in the Haid, whose importance as an archaeological find region has been marginalized within a few decades due to the intensification of agriculture.


  • J. Scheff: Johannes Dorn (1853-1925) - farmer and ancient researcher , in: Heimatkundliche Blätter Balingen 48 (2001), pp. 1253-1255 u. 1259f. ( Digital ).
  • KG Kokkotidis among others: The man with the gold helmet. The early medieval "princely grave" from Gammertingen, Sigmaringen district , ed. by the Kulturstiftung der Länder in connection with the Landesmuseum Württemberg (Patrimonia 384), Berlin / Stuttgart 2019, p. 14ff.

Individual evidence

  1. The article largely follows the basic presentation by J. Scheff: Johannes Dorn (1853–1925) - Farmer und Altertumsforscher , in: Heimatkundliche Blätter Balingen 48 (2001), pp. 1253–1255 u. 1259f ( Digital ( Memento of the original from October 20, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this note. ). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Inventory of the collections and grave finds at Lichtenstein Castle , made by Eberhard Gfröreis, 1905, Main State Archive Stuttgart, inventory GU 20 Bü 265 ( digital ).
  3. See Julius von Föhr: Barrows on the Swabian Alb , Stuttgart 1892.
  4. Cf. Hermann von Hölder: Investigations into the skeleton finds in the pre-Roman barrows in Württemberg and Hohenzollern , in: Find reports from Schwaben 2 (1894), supplementary book.
  5. John W. Gröbbels: The number of graves Fund of Gammertingen , Munich 1905 ( digital ).
  6. C. Bumiller: Hundert Jahre Hohenzollerische Landessammlung , in: Zeitschrift für Hohenzollerische Landesgeschichte 91 (1997), pp. 79–95 ( digital )
  7. S. Schiek: The grave mounds of the "Haid". On the sinking of an archaeological landscape , in: Denkmalpflege in Baden-Württemberg , 7 (1978), pp. 165–167.