Personal networks

[ Work in progress: The follow-up project, which starts 2024, uses a digital network tool to visualise biographical data that will facilitate research into when and where which people came into contact with each other and how, in order to better understand networks of ancient trade, including through professional and private connections. This research/data will be connected to Propylaeum Vitae by the Heidelberg University Library. ]

In the sale of archaeological objects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, well-known archaeological personalities often served as intermediaries, as the antiquities trade and science went hand in hand at this time, when attempts were made to build up university teaching collections in Heidelberg, as elsewhere, and objects were enthusiastically purchased and accepted as gifts. Such middlemen are therefore just as much a part of the history of objects and collections as the actual buyers or donors.

Friedrich von Duhn (Professor of Archaeology 1880-1920) was a key figure for the Heidelberg Collection of Classical Antiquities: he was not only well connected in aristocratic circles and archaeological advisor to Kaiser Wilhelm II, but also had a large network of colleagues and former students who bought antiquities for him in Greece, Italy and elsewhere and sent them to Heidelberg. However, these contacts often also supplied other collections and museums as middlemen and dealers. And as the archaeological world was small and contacts were close, some objects were initially offered for sale to various collections or passed on from one collection to another. How exactly the purchasing processes and trade routes functioned can therefore only be revealed through the personal networks that also lead to other collections and museums and therefore require co-operation at research level in order to be able to systematically approach provenance research.

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