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Knackfuss, Hubert

    Full Name: Knackfuss, Hubert

    Other Names:

    • Hurbert Knackfuss

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 25 June 1866

    Date Died: 30 April 1948

    Place Born: Gut Dahlheim, Aachen, Germany

    Place Died: Munich, Bavaria, Germany

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre) and sculpture (visual works)


    Specialist in the architecture of ancient Greece; founder of the discipline of archeological architectural history. Knackfuß hailed from an artistic family. His elder brothers were artists (and the oldest of his brothers, a writer of artistic biographies, Hermann Joseph Wilhelm Knackfuss). He studied architecture at Aachen beginning in 1901. Together with Theodor Wiegand he led the excavation of the Roman buildings of Miletus and Didyma through the auspices of the Royal Berlin Museums (Königliche Museen zu Berlin). These included the theater, municiple building and the Market Gate. Knackfuß made a careful reconstruction of the gate for the Berlin Pergamon Museum in 1929. However, the final installation was so much different than Knackfuss had suggested that he boycotted its opening in the Museum. After the gate reconstruction Knackfuß focused his attention on ancient building research and reconstruction. Using the structural remains of ancient monuments as documents, he conjectured the appearance of buildings as accurratedly as possible. Knackfuss remained active in Asia Minor, leading excavations at Miletus the Apollo sanctuary of Didyma, except for the years of the first world war. He published his results in 1941, the most comprehensive study of an ancient architectural history. As the second director of the Deutsche Archäologische Institut (German Archaeological Institute or DAI) in Athens, he oversaw the excavations at Olympia and other ancient Greek sites. In 1919 Knackfuss returned to Germany as professor at the Technische Universität (Technical University) lecturing on ancient architecture. With the rise of the Nazis in 1933, he was forced to relinquish his chair the following year to Alexander von Senger. After the war Knackfuß’ position was reinstated. He remained at the University until his death. Further volumes of Didyma were completed by Albert Rehm and Richard Harder.

    Selected Bibliography

    Das Rathaus von Milet. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1908; Der südmarkt und die benachbarten bauanlagen. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Milet vol.. I, part. 7. Berlin: Verlag von Schoetz und Parrhysius, 1924; Didyma. 2 vols. in 4 parts. Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1941-1958 [part four, inscriptions, by Albert Rehm, edited by Richard Harder].


    Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988: 164-165.


    "Knackfuss, Hubert." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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