The Department of Ancient History, Epigraphy and Papyrology emerged from the Archaeological-Epigraphic Seminar, which was founded in 1876, after Classical Archeology was established in Vienna by Alexander Conze in 1869. Before then, Ancient History was part of the Philological-Historical Seminar, and following its division in 1872, part of the Historical Seminar. In 1984 Classical Archaeology, which has always had its own representatives, was established as an independent department. 

In 1876, the Prague professor Otto Hirschfeld (1843-1922) was called to the new professorship of Ancient History and Epigraphy, which was tasked in particular with the study of Roman inscriptions on the territory of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. When Hirschfeld left for Berlin in 1885 to become the successor of Theodor Mommsen, his colleague Eugen Bormann (1842-1917) was committed to Vienna. In alliance with the original denomination of the chair, his interests lay in Roman history and especially Roman inscriptions. For the Greek area, he was joined by Emil Szanto (1857-1904), who was first associate professor (1893), then became full professor for Classical Antiquities in 1901. He was succeeded in 1905 by Adolf Wilhelm (1864-1950), who had received his education in Graz. After Bormann’s retirement in 1914, his chair was split: Wilhelm Kubitschek (1858-1936, associate professor from 1905) was called as professor for Roman Antiquity and Epigraphy, while at the same time Adolf Bauer (1855-1919) was called from Graz to Vienna to represent Ancient History in the Historical Seminar. Yet Bauer’s unexpectedly early death led to his subject area being split between professors Wilhelm and Kubitschek. In 1929 Rudolf Egger (1882-1969) was called to Kubitschek’s vacant position, and in 1936 Josef Keil (1878-1963) took up the area of Greek History. Both perpetuated the antiquarian tradition of the Department with its focus on scholarship in antique inscriptions. After Egger’s retirement (1945 for political reasons), his student Artur Betz (1905-1985) was called to the chair for Roman History, Ancient History and Epigraphy. In 1952 Fritz Schachermeyr (1895-1987) was appointed Keil’s successor and his broad interests went far beyond the traditional research areas of the Department. From 1970 to 1981 this position was held by Ernst Kirsten (1911-1987), who incorporated the fields of ancient geography and topography into the Department. In addition to them, Roman Stiglitz (1922-1988), whose interests lay mainly in the field ofGreek epigraphy and religious history, was associate professor from 1973. Gerhard Dobesch succeeded Artur Betz in 1976; his interests included research on Caesar and Celtology. In 1983, the Greek chair was taken up by Peter Siewert, who worked on Athenian ostracism and ancient Olympia. Already in 1980 Ekkehard Weber, whose research focus lay on Roman inscriptions in Austria, became associate professor. From 1994 to 2001, Luciana Aigner-Foresti led the newly created professorship for Etruscology and Italic Antiquity, which permanently established at our Department the field founded by Hon.-Prof. Ambros Pfiffig at the University of Vienna.  

Currently, the Department of Ancient History and Ancient History has five chairs:

Bernhard Palme for Papyrology and Late Antiquity (since 2004; focus: Egypt and military affairs), Fritz Mitthof for Roman history and Latin Epigraphy (since 2008; focus: Roman Empire, Southeastern Europe in antiquity), Thomas Corsten for Greek History and Epigraphy (since 2010; focus: Lycia) and Petra Amann for Etruscology and Italic Antiquity (since 2013; Focus: social history and cultural contacts); Peter Kruschwitz (Cultural History of Antiquity, since 2019).

As associate professors, Hans Taeuber (since 2006) has been working on inscriptions from Ephesus and Olympia, and Herbert Heftner (since 2008) on the history of classical Athens and the Roman Republic.


Lit.: Ekkehard Weber, 100 Jahre Institut für Alte Geschichte, Archäologie und Epigraphik der Universität Wien, Römisches Österreich 4, 1976, 301-314; Hedwig Kenner - Gerhard Dobesch - Ernst Kirsten, Hundert Jahre Institut für Alte Geschichte, Archäologie und Epigraphik der Universität Wien 1876-1976, Wien 1977; Ekkehard Weber, Institut für Alte Geschichte und Klassische Archäologie. Ein Nachruf, Österreichische Hochschulzeitung 36, 1984, Nr. 11, 29f.; Wolfgang Hameter, Das Institut für Alte Geschichte, Klassische Archäologie und Epigraphik. Die Monatsscherbe 6, 1988, 10-15; Martina Pesditschek, Die Professoren der Alten Geschichte an der Universität Wien, unpubl. Dipl. Wien 1996; Michael Sasse, Buchberggasse 41 - Ansätze zu einer Biographie Eugen Bormanns, unpubl. Diss. Wien 1996; 100 Jahre Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut 1898-1998, Wien 1998; Friedrich Brein (Hg.), Emanuel Löwy. Ein vergessener Pionier (Kataloge der Archäologischen Sammlung der Universität Wien, Sonderheft 1), Wien 1998; Verena Gassner, Zur Geschichte des Instituts für Klassische Archäologie der Universität Wien, Forum Archaeologiae 17/XII/2000,; Verena Gassner, Geschichte des Instituts [für Klassische Archäologie]; Martina Pesditschek, Zur Geschichte des Instituts für Alte Geschichte, Altertumskunde und Epigraphik der Universität Wien (anläßlich seines 125jährigen Bestehens), Die Sprache, Chronicalia Indoeuropaea 39,3, 1997 [2002], 1-24; Ingomar Weiler, Alte Geschichte, Klassische Archäologie und Altertumskunde, in: Karl Acham (Hg.), Geschichte der österreichischen Humanwissenschaften, Bd. 4: Geschichte und fremde Kulturen, Wien 2002, 83-126; Martina Pesditschek, Fritz Schachermeyr. Ein Leben zwischen Wissenschaft und Politik, unpubl. Diss. Wien 2005; Martina Pesditschek, Fritz Schachermeyr – Ein Leben zwischen Hethiterreich und Drittem Reich, Forum Archaeologiae 41/XII/2006,; Martina Pesditschek, Die Karriere des Althistorikers Fritz Schachermeyr im Dritten Reich und in der Zweiten Republik, Mensch – Wissenschaft – Magie. Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsgeschichte 25, 2007[2008], 41-71; Martina Pesditschek, Barbar, Kreter, Arier. Leben und Werk des Althistorikers Fritz Schachermeyr, 2 Bde. (überarbeitete u. ergänzte Diss. Wien 2005), Saarbrücken 2009


© Martina Pesditschek updated by Hans Taeuber