Wilhelm Dörpfeld

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Wilhelm Dörpfeld

Wilhelm Dörpfeld (born December 26, 1853 in Bredde , Barmen ; † April 25, 1940 in Nidri on Lefkada ) was a German architect and archaeologist . He is considered the founder of modern excavation and is one of the most famous archaeological construction researchers .


At the Löwentor in Mycenae , approx. 1885: Wilhelm Dörpfeld (top left, looking through the hole in the wall) and Heinrich Schliemann (top right, next to the lions)
Dörpfeld's grave opposite the port of Nidri

Wilhelm Dörpfeld was the son of the educator Friedrich Wilhelm Dörpfeld . He attended the humanistic grammar school in Elberfeld, the Wilhelm Dörpfeld grammar school named after him today , and graduated from high school there in 1872 .

He then studied architecture at the Berlin Building Academy , where his circle of friends included the architects Friedrich Graeber and Karl Siebold . He found his way into archaeological building research through a job in the office of his teacher (and later father-in-law) Friedrich Adler .

In 1877 Dörpfeld came to Olympia as assistant to the excavation architect Richard Bohn , whose excavation Ernst Curtius and Friedrich Adler had already started in 1874. In 1878, at the age of only 25, Dörpfeld was entrusted with technical excavation management. The Baedeker publishing house committed Dörpfeld because of his profound knowledge as co-author in drafting the description of Olympias in his belt Greece (from 1882).

After completing the work in Olympia, Dörpfeld was won over by Heinrich Schliemann in 1882 for the excavation of Troy . The two archaeologists became good friends and also worked together on other projects. From 1884 to 1885 they mined together in Tiryns . Between 1885 and 1890 Dörpfeld repeatedly took part in the Greek excavations on the Acropolis of Athens , during which, among other things, the foundations of the ancient Temple of Athena were exposed. From 1888 to 1890 Schliemann and Dörpfeld dug together again in Troy. After Schliemann's death (1890) Dörpfeld continued the excavations there. He succeeded in giving an initial clear interpretation of the numerous layers of settlements in Troy.

Dörpfeld was second secretary for one year from 1886, then first secretary (director) of the German Archaeological Institute, Athens department until 1912 and is considered to be the founder of scientific excavations in archeology. The historical gain from excavations was multiplied by the excavation methods he developed. This includes the precise documentation of the findings through stone plans with lintel positions, the observation of the archaeological layers ( stratigraphy ) and the graphic recording of important individual stones as well as the conscientious justification of proposed reconstructions.

Wilhelm Dörpfeld founded the German School Athens in 1896 . Other important excavations and research: From 1900 to 1913 with Alexander Conze middle and lower town of Pergamon ; 1931 Investigations on the Agora of Athens .

On April 8, 1923, the University of Jena appointed him honorary professor.

His late work on the early history of the sanctuary of Olympia and the origin of Mycenaean culture, however, were unsuccessful, as were his efforts from 1900 to prove the Homeric Ithaca on Lefkas.

Wilhelm Dörpfeld was married to Anna Adler († 1915), the daughter of his teacher Friedrich Adler. From this marriage two daughters Else (1883-1917) and Agnes (1886-1935) and the son Friedrich Gustav Richard, called Fritz, (1892-1966) were born.



For his outstanding achievements in the field of archeology, Dörpfeld received seven honorary doctorates and in 1892 the title of professor.


In Germany:

In Greece:

  • German School Athens - Dörpfeld-Gymnasium in Athens
  • Οδός Δαίρπφελδ (Dörpfeldstrasse) in Athens-Patissia
  • Οδός Δαίρπφελδ (Dörpfeldstrasse) in Kerkyra / Corfu (city)
  • Οδός Δαίρπφελδ (Dörpfeldstrasse) in Lefkada (city)


For further fonts see below (web link, Wikisource) as well as the complete list of fonts:


Individual evidence

  1. Baedekers Greece , Leipzig 1904, p. VI
  2. ^ Members of the previous academies. Wilhelm Dörpfeld. Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences , accessed on March 17, 2015 .

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Dörpfeld  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Wilhelm Dörpfeld  - Sources and full texts