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Istanbul, Hagia Sophia, Jorun Ruppel (2011)

History of Christian Archaeology in Göttingen

At Göttingen University the first course in christian archaeology is held at the faculty of humanities. During the winter term of 1919/20 Oskar Hagen, private lecturer for art history, presents an exercise course about ancient christian and byzantine art. It was however a singular proposal. Erik Peterson, private lecturer for ecclesiastical history, offers an exercise course "Introduction to Christian archaeology" at the faculty of theology in the winter term of 1920/21 as well as in the summer term of 1924. It was not before the winter term of 1930/31 that christian archaeology could establish itself in the academic program of Göttingen University. This happens under private lecturer Dr. Hans Freiherr von Campenhausen1, who is officially listed at the university's directory as a private lecturer at the faculty of theology in the field of "Ecclesiastical history and christian archaeology". Campenhausen hosts three courses, one of them with the title "The picture of Christ from the beginnings to the present".

From the summer term of 1939 onward Dr. Alfons Maria Schneider hosts lectures and courses about christian archaeology. Other than his predecessor however, he is employed at the faculty of humanities for the department "byzantine and early-Islamic architecture and art history". He continues to hold lectures at Göttingen University, though intermittently due to the second World War, until the summer term of 1952. In March 1944 Schneider is appointed adjunct professor.

Parallel to Schneider Dr. Ernst Schäfer hosts several courses about christian Archaeology at the faculty of theology since the summer term of 1946. There he is employed as an assistant-professor in the field of "ancient christian archaeology" specializing in "historical theology" and allowed to hold lectures. In the summer term of 1953 he is appointed supernumerary professor of "christian archaeology and ecclesiastical art". Since the winter term of 1964/65 he holds an advanced teaching license in byzantine art. Schäfer continues to host courses concerning christian archaeology until 1971.

However since the winter term of 1962/63 the subject is already taught by Prof. Dr. Carl Andresen, who has been appointed professor for ecclesiastical history in Göttingen in 1960. During his professorship a department for christian archaeology, over which he presides as director, is found for the first time. In 1962 lecture rooms for christian archaeology are established - even back then in the same building as the classical archaeology at Nikolausberger Weg 15. From now on the library and the slide and photo collections are constantly extended. However it is not possible to study christian archaeology as a major at this time. There is merely the option to study the subject as a minor at the faculty of theology as well as at the faculty of humanities upon request, although most applicants originate from the latter. Therefore it is not surprising that the faculty council of the faculty of humanities finally decides unanimous to include the subject christian archaeology and byzantine art history in the course-catalogue as a major and a minor for the magister regulation as well as for the promotion regulation. No later than this moment the christian archaeology, though institunionally still belonging to the faculty of theology, is de facto part of the faculty of humanities.

After Andresen retired in 1977, it is unclear whether the subject will persist in Göttingen, as the founding of a department and the assignments of lecture rooms was granted Andresen ad personam. Yet his successor Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Mühlenberg agrees to resume the direction of the christian-archaeological department and its lectures.

Along with the establishment of an exclusive department during Andresen's professorship the position of a scientific assistant has been created, which is residing at the faculty of theology. It is initially hold by Dr. Gernot Weißner, who is later appointed professor of general religious history in Göttingen. From 1970 to 1981 his successor is Dr. Guntram Koch, who is aided in teaching by Mühlenberg at first and by Dr. Dr. Claudia Nauerth (research associate) and Dr. Renate Rosenthal (scientific assistant) at last.

In the years between 1981 and 1985 Dr. Urs Peschlow succeeds as scientific assistant for christian archaeology and byzantine art history. To the summer semester of 1983 his appointment is changed to an assistant professorship, which continues to reside at the faculty of theology. Lectures and courses are not only given by Peschlow but also by Mühlenberg and Sabine Möllers M.A. They resume lectures after Peschlow has left the University.

In 1985 the position of a scientific assistant is converted into a C2 professorship, which is held by Dr. Rainer Warland since 1987 and to which he is appointed in the winter term of 1988/1989. His professorship is established in the faculty of humanities for establishmentarian reasons. Warland stays until the summer term of 1994.

Before Prof. Dr. Achim Arbeiter takes over the professorship in the summer term of 1998, the subject is kept alive by Mühlenberg and Dr. Gudrun Bühl, who continue to host courses. At the same time there are tough negotiations concerning the christian archaeology and byzantine art history's continuity at Göttingen University. As mentioned before, the subject has been practically part of the faculty of humanities since 1976, as it can be only studied there as a graduate degree. On account of this the faculty of theology offers to transfer the professorship to the faculty of humanities in 1994. In 1995 the faculty of humanities agrees to take over the subject christian archaeology and byzantine art history from the faculty of theology. So Arbeiter's professorship is established at the faculty of humanities as well. Since Arbeiter took over the professorship the offered courses are enriched by Dr. Stephan Westphalen (now professor at Heidelberg University), PD Dr. (now adjunct Professor) Jutta Dresken-Weiland, PD Dr. Philipp Niewöhner, Dr. Ina Eichner, Anette Schomberg M.A., Wiebke Thoma M.A., Dr. Markos Giannoulis and Norman Wetzig M.A.

1: Although he signed the Commitment of professors at the German universities and colleges to Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist State in 1933, Campenhausen allegedly rejected National Socialism, causing his academic career to suffer in the Third Reich (B. Moeller, Nekrolog. Hans Freiherr von Campenhausen 16.12.1903 bis 6.1.1989, in: HZ 249 (1989) 740-743).

Sabine Bergoff