Classical archeology

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Johann Joachim Winckelmann , founder of classical archeology; Portrait of Anton von Maron , 1768

The Classical Archeology is a special direction of Archeology and Classical Studies discipline that deals with the material remains of the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean, especially the Greeks and Romans , is concerned.


Archeology with a purely antiquarian interest already existed at the time of Renaissance humanism . Important representatives are Flavio Biondo and Poggio Bracciolini . Cyriacus of Ancona (around 1391– around 1455), an Italian merchant and humanist, is considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern classical archeology. It is also the father of archeology sometimes . Johann Joachim Winckelmann is considered to be the founder of classical archeology in an art and cultural-historical sense .

It deals with the period from the late Bronze Age ( Mycenaean period ) to the end of the 6th century AD, with archeology having made a considerable contribution to research advances in recent decades, particularly with regard to late antiquity and the so-called Greek Dark Ages . The transitions to prehistory and early history on the one hand and early Christian archeology on the other are fluid. While Winckelmann and his first successors clearly focused on an evaluative, classical approach, archeology is now generally characterized by a more neutral approach to antiquity, which has broken away from the former search for aesthetic and moral models. At the same time, historical issues became more important for the subject.

Classical Archeology exists today in part from library recherche who has a not-defying share of the work of archaeologists, and the evaluation of the material already found and the archaeological fieldwork . Since archeology, in contrast to ancient history, hardly deals with written sources , but primarily with material legacies of the epoch, these are the focus of research. It can involve building remains, everyday objects, weapons , and even to waste act. Anything that tells the archaeologist about the way of life in ancient times is important.

Objects relevant to art history make up a large part of this, such as statues , bronzes , vases, architecture or their remains, etc. This means that classical archeology continues to practice ancient art history to a high degree, which some consider to be too high . There are also reconstructions, such as the colored painting of the marble sculptures of ancient Greece, as it was first seen from the end of 2003 in the exhibition Colorful Gods in the Glyptothek in Munich .

In addition, there should be numerous points of contact between classical archeology and ancient history as well as prehistory and early history , as these subjects often have to fall back on the results of the other discipline: material (archeology) and written (ancient history) evidence are often not independent evaluate from each other. It should always be borne in mind that material legacies, like texts, do not speak for themselves but require interpretation . Close interdisciplinary cooperation, however, has seldom been realized so far - to the detriment of science, since the methodological approach to antiquity is often different, especially among ancient historians and archaeologists, and researchers therefore sometimes mislead the sources and results of the other discipline. The fact that quite a few scholars study both subjects during their training has so far not changed that much.

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