Archaeological research in Germany, Austria and Switzerland from the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire to 1852

Project duration: 2010 – 2012
Project sponsorship: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation)

A bibliography of independently published texts or those in compendia, journals, etc., concerning archaeological research between 1807 and 1852 will be posted on an internet database. Selected monographs and journals will be digitized and their contents made accessible.

The aim is to improve access to the publications from the pioneering phase of archaeological research in German-speaking lands. The project will be carried out by the library of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, continuing the digitisation project “Archaeological Findings in the Early Modern Era” (“Archäologische Funde in der Frühen Neuzeit”) at the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel (2006-2009).

The project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft within the framework of the development program “Literature Supply and Information Systems – Indexing and Digitisation of Manuscripts and Printed Records” (“Literaturversorgungs- und Informationssysteme – Erschließung und Digitalisierung handschriftlicher und gedruckter Überlieferung”).


At the beginning of the 19th century, interest in local archaeology escalated, whereby the excavation, collecting and publishing of archaeological finds went back to the scholarly traditions of the Early Modern period.

After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, glorious perceptions of the nation state and a new consciousness of one’s region motivated people to occupy themselves with local antiquities. Newly acquired knowledge about age and origin of prehistoric objects granted access to cultural and ethnographic history before written records.

Methods of excavation and analysis were further developed and became ever more specialized. The “three-age system” – the theory of the cultural-historical progression of the use of the raw materials stone, bronze, iron – for the first time offered a method of dating prehistoric objects.

Historical and antiquarian associations as well as natural science societies founded since the second decade of the 19th century offered the most important forum for scholarly and social discourse about local languages, customs, mythology, geography, and natural history but especially about the interpretation and meaning of archaeological findings. It is within the framework of these associations that archaeological research achieved an early form of institutionalisation. Numerous publications led to a never before known popularisation of excavations and their findings. 


Number and content of the publications from this productive pioneer phase of local archaeology in the first half of the 19th century have not nearly been collected or utilized with regard to contents. In order to establish a new and improved basis of sources for future research on the history of archaeology, a bibliography will be compiled of monographs and journal articles of archaeological research published in Germany, Austria and Switzerland between 1807 and 1852.

All bibliographic data are collected in the database hosted by the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel and may be searched online.
On the bibliography (Webpage in german)


Selected monographs and journals from the library of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum (GNM) will be newly digitized and their contents made accessible. Added to this collection will be digital copies from the libraries of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (RGZM) and the Römisch-Germanische Kommission of the German Archaeological Institute (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut), Frankfurt/Main (RGK).

On the Digital Copies

All newly generated digital copies as well as digitized texts offered by other providers are linked within “Project Bibliography” and can be directly accessed from there. Due to various digitisation initiatives over the last years, a large part of the catalogued monographs and journal articles may be searched and read online.


Many copies of the catalogued old holdings contain comments by former owners which offer an interesting glimpse into the contemporary scholarly network and reception of the texts. These provenances will be identified in selected libraries with rich holdings in early archaeological research and recorded under the respective entry in Project Bibliography. The documented provenances can be searched within Project Bibliography under the search option “Provenance”.


Dr. Ingo Wiwjorra 


Herzog August Bibliothek
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Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum - Bibliothek

Deutsches Archäologisches Institut - Römisch-Germanische Kommission - Bibliothek 

Archive Research projects


Dr. Ingo Wiwjorra


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