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Gerkan, Armin von

    Full Name: Gerkan, Armin von

    Other Names:

    • Armin von Gerkan

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1884

    Date Died: 1969

    Place Born: Subbath, Kurland, Germany

    Place Died: Hamburg, Germany

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): ancient, Ancient Greek (culture or style), architecture (object genre), Classical, Roman (ancient Italian culture or period), and sculpture (visual works)


    Greek and Roman architectural historian. Gerkan was born in a small town on the Baltic coast. He initially studied at Riga, Latvia, but during the insurgency with Russian in 1906, he switched to Dresden (though he received his diploma from Riga). He traveled to Greece and Asia Minor after graduation. Wilhelm Dörpfeld secured him a position at the excavations at Miletos, Didyma and Samos (1908-1914) under the direction of Theodor Wiegand. He served as a Russian officer during World War I and after 1918 volunteering in a German military unit. In 1920 he was appointed to the Berlin museum, where Wiegand was director of the Antiquities section and which had sponsored the pre-war excavations. Gerkan published the Miletos excavations in three volumes for the museum. He completed a dissertation at the university in Greifswald on city planning in ancient Greece (Griechische Stadteanlagen). In 1923 he accepted the post of Second Secretary of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in Rome. During these years he researched and publish the topography of ancient Rome and revived the archaeological course in Pompeii. He served as first secretary for the DAI in both Athens and Rome, but was passed over for the directorship in Athens for political reasons in favor of a Nazi candidate in 1936. Following the retirement (dismissal by the Nazi’s) of Ludwig Curtius in 1938, he assumed the provisional directorship of the DAI in Rome. He left Rome at its capture by the Allies in 1944. After the war, taught as a guest professor at the University of Bonn, 1948-1954 and at Göttingen, then at Cologne and Hamburg. Gerkan is a seminal figure in ancient architectural history. His Griechische Stadteanlage is still consulted today as a basic text for ancient city planning and his methodology has been widely adopted.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] Griechische Städteanlagen. Greifswald, 1924, published as, Griechische Städteanlagen: Untersuchungen zur Entwicklung des Städtebaues im Altertlum. Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1924; and Müller-Wiener, Wolfgang. Das Theater von Epidauros. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1961; and L’Orange, Hans Peter. Der spätantike Bildschmuck des Konstantinsbogens. Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1939; and Rehm, Albert. Die Stadtmauern. Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1935; Der Altar des Artemis-tempels in Magnesia am Mäander. Berlin: H. Schoetz, 1929; and Krischen, Fritz, and Drexel, Friedrich, and Neugebauer, Karl Anton, and Rehm, Albert, and Wiegand, Theodor. Thermen und Palaestren. Berlin,: H. Schoetz, 1928; Kalabaktepe, Athenatempel und Umgebung. Berlin: Verlag von Schoetz und Parrhysius, 1925; Das Stadion. Berlin: Vereiningung wissenschaftlicher Verleger, 1921; Der Poseidonaltar bei kap Monodendri. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1915.


    Naumann, R. “Gerkan, Armin von.” Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988: 226-227; “Gerkan, Armin von.” Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 491, and mentioned 493.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Gerkan, Armin von." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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