Walter Janssen (prehistoric)

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Walter Janssen (born September 5, 1936 in Kassel ; † April 29, 2001 in Würzburg ) was a German prehistoric and medieval archaeologist .

life and work

Janssen attended the Aufbaugymnasium in Diepholz , where he graduated with distinction in 1956. From 1956 to 1957 he studied at the Osnabrück University of Education, then prehistory and early history with Herbert Jankuhn at the University of Göttingen . During the 1960s he excavated the Königshagen desert (community Barbis ) in the Harz Mountains , which he worked on as part of his dissertation at the University of Göttingen (1963) and published in two books. At the beginning of 1963 he married the secondary school teacher Brigitte Blechschmidt, who from then on actively supported him in his work until his death. In 1964 he was a research assistant at the Lower Saxony Administrative Office in Hanover and participated as a research assistant in various excavations at the University of Bergen. In 1965 he passed the state examination for teaching at secondary schools.

At the end of 1964 he moved to the Rhineland, where he subsequently worked on the deserted areas and old fields there on behalf of the German Research Foundation , which was also reflected in his 1972 and 1975 published habilitation thesis Studies on the Wüstungsfrage in the Franconian old settlements between the Rhine, Moselle and north edge of the Eifel . In 1966 he became a scientific advisor at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum . In 1971 he was promoted to the State Museum Council and in 1974 to the State Upper Museum Council. Also in 1974 he was appointed deputy state shop steward for cultural and historical soil antiquities and absence director of the Rheinisches Landesmuseum and extraordinary professor at the University of Bonn . In 1976, he finally became a department director. Walter Janssen became the decisive promoter of the interests of the Rhenish soil monument conservation, in particular the soil conservation measures in the Rhenish lignite mining areas. His work in these years found journalistic expression in the series of special issues he founded in the magazine “Das Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn”, which initially appeared annually and later every two years and presented the respective excavation results of the Rhenish archaeological monument preservation in an effective way. The highlight of his work in the Rhineland was the entry into force of the North Rhine-Westphalia Soil Monument Protection Act and the associated establishment of the Rhenish Office for Soil Monument Maintenance in 1980 .

From 1980 to 1995 he held the chair for Prehistory and Protohistory at the University of Würzburg and head of the Institute for Archeology and Prehistory.

His focus was on the Urnfield Period with excavations on the Bullenheimer Berg , where several hoard finds were discovered through illegal robbery excavations and were endangered for science. Janssen was one of the pioneers in the field of medieval archeology. His work in the Rhineland initially focused on the desert problem . Finally, he carried out excavations at low castles and pottery, which provided essential new knowledge about the development of the medieval castle .

Janssen wrote overview works on settlement and economic history topics of archeology of the Middle Ages, for example on handicrafts in rural settlements and on castles, on the state of research and methodology of desert research.

Janssen was an honorary doctorate from the University of Caen .

Fonts (selection)

  • Walter Janssen, Dietrich Lohrmann (ed.): Villa - Curtis - Grangia. Agriculture between the Loire and the Rhine from Roman times to the High Middle Ages. Économie rurale entre Loire et Rhin de l'époque gallo-romaine au XIIe – XIIIe siècle. 16th Franco-German Historians' Colloquium of the German Historical Institute Paris, Xanten, September 28th – October 1st, 1980 (Supplements of Francia, 11), Munich / Zurich (Artemis) 1983, ISBN 3-7608-4661-0 . Online at
  • Medieval village settlements as an archaeological problem. In: Early Medieval Studies. 2, 1968, pp. 305-367.
  • Methodological problems in archeological desert research . In: Nachr. Akad. Wiss. Göttingen I. Phil.-Hist. Kl., Göttingen 1968
  • The Carolingian pottery district of Brühl-Eckdorf, Cologne district . New Ausgr. u. Forsch. Niedersachsen, 6, 1970 (Festschr. Jankuhn), pp. 224-229.
  • with Edith Ennen : German agricultural history. From the Neolithic to the threshold of the industrial age . Wiesbaden 1979
  • Lower castles in the Rhineland. From timber construction to stone castle. Castles made of wood and stone . Castle history Coll. Basel 1977. Swiss Contribution to Kulturgesch. u. Arch. Middle Ages. Olten, Freiburg i.Br. 1979, pp. 11-41.
  • Village and village forms from the 7th to 12th centuries in the light of new excavations in Central and Northern Europe. In: Herbert Jankuhn, Rudolf Schützeichel, Fred Schwind (ed.): The village of the Iron Age and the early Middle Ages. Form of settlement - economic function - social structure. Colloquium of the Commission on Central and Northern Europe 1973 and 1974. (Abh. Akad. Wiss. Göttingen, Phil.-Hist. Kl. 3, 101). Göttingen 1977, pp. 285-356.
  • Commercial production in the Middle Ages as an economic factor in rural areas. In: Herbert Jankuhn u. a. (Ed.): The craft in prehistoric times. II. Colloquium of the Antiquities Commission for Central and Northern Europe 1977-1980. (Abh. Akad. Wiss. Göttingen, Phil.-Hist. Kl. 3, 123). Göttingen 1983, pp. 317-394.
  • The importance of the medieval castle for economic and social history . H. Jankuhn et al. a. (Ed.): The craft in prehistoric times. II. Coll. Comm. Classical Antiquities Middle u. Northern Europe 1977–1980. Dep. Akad. Wiss. Göttingen, Phil.-Hist. Kl. 3, 123. Göttingen 1983.
  • Craft workshops and workshops in the city around 1200 . In: Heiko Steuer (Hrsg.): On the way of life in the city around 1200. Results of medieval archeology. Journal for Archeology of the Middle Ages Supplement 4. Bonn 1986.
  • The imported ceramics from Haithabu . Excavations in Haithabu 9 (Neumünster 1987)
  • The medieval city as a problem of archeology. In: H. Jäger (Ed.): Stadtkernforschung. Cologne, Vienna 1987, pp. 3-10.
  • The rebirth of towns in the Rhineland . In: Richard Hodges, B. Hobley (Eds.): The rebirth of towns in the West AD 700-1050. CBA Research Rep. 68 (1988) pp. 47-51.
  • Methods and ways of researching early environments . In: Siedlungsforschung 6, 1988, pp. 25-38.
  • The position of archeology in the Middle Ages in the structure of historical science . In: Contributions to Medieval Archeology in Austria 4–5, 1988/89, pp. 9–18.
  • Riding and driving in the Merovingian era . In: H. Jankuhn, W. Kimmig, E. Ebel (Hrsg.): Investigations on trade and traffic in prehistoric times in Central and Northern Europe V. Traffic. Ber. Koll. Come. Antiquity. Middle u. Northern Europe 1980–83. Dep. Akad. Wiss. Göttingen, Phil.-Hist. Kl. 3, 180. Göttingen 1989, pp. 174-228.
  • Garden culture in the Middle Ages. In: Günther Bittner, Paul-Ludwig Weinacht (Ed.): How much garden do people need? Wuerzburg 1990.
  • The Bullenheimer Berg . In: H. Dannheimer, R. Gebhard (Hrsg.): The Celtic Millennium. Exhibition catalogs Prehistoric State Collection 23. Mainz 1993, pp. 75–87.
  • The Windsheim hospital find from around 1500. A document of the cultural history of the imperial city of the Reformation era . Scientific supplements to the Anzeiger des Germanisches Nationalmuseums 11. Nuremberg, Verlag des Germanisches Nationalmuseums, 1995.
  • Archaeological contributions to the economic history of the Middle Ages in Central Europe . In: GP Fehring, W. Sage (Ed.): Medieval archeology in Central Europe. On the change in tasks and objectives. Koll. Bamberg 1990. Journal. Arch. Middle Ages Beih. 9. Bonn 1995, pp. 75-86.
  • with Brigitte Janssen: The early medieval low castle near Haus Meer, Neuss district . Archaeological and scientific research. Rhenish excavations 46 (1999).


  • Birgitt Berthold, Elmar Kahler, Sabine Kas, Dieter Neubauer, Susanne Schmidt, Markus Schußmann (eds.): Times views. Honorary gift for Walter Janssen. Rahden / Westf. 1998. ISBN 3-89646-012-9
  • Peter Ettel, Reinhard Friedrich, Wolfram Schier (eds.): Interdisciplinary contributions to settlement archeology. Commemorative letter for Walter Janssen. International archeology. Studia honoraria 17. Rahden / Westf. 2002. ISBN 3-89646-397-7
  • Hans-Eckhart Joachim : Walter Janssen. An obituary . In: Bonner Jahrbücher 199, 1999 (2002), pp. IX − XIII.

Individual evidence

  1. Königshagen, an archaeological-historical contribution to the settlement history of the southwestern Harz foreland . Sources and descriptions of the history of Lower Saxony 64. August Laux, Hildesheim 1965; On the typology and chronology of medieval ceramics from southern Lower Saxony . Göttingen writings on prehistory and early history 7. Neumünster 1966.
  2. ^ Hans-Eckhart Joachim: Walter Jassen. An obituary . In: Bonner Jahrbücher 199, 1999 (2002), pp. IX − XIII.
  3. ^ Studies on the question of desertification in the Franconian old settlements between the Rhine, Moselle and north edge of the Eifeln. Bonner Jahrbücher , supplement 35. Rheinland Verlag, Cologne 1975.

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