Disziplinäre Nichtkonsolidierung: Zu den Anfängen der Mittelalterarchäologie in den 1920er und 1930er Jahren

NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 22 (3):181-215 (2014)
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Abstract

Disciplinary Non-Consolidation. On the Origins of Medieval Archaeology in the 1920s and the 1930s. This article investigates the roots of the sub-discipline medieval archaeology that emerged in German-speaking universities in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1930s, research practices crucial for the formation of medieval archaeology, such as the investigation of medieval castles and peasant houses, became more prominent in the humanities, especially in the context of völkisch research. After the Nazis took power in Germany, they encouraged such research because it built a scientific basis for their nationalist policy. This politically motivated funding did not result in a new discipline, in contrast to research fields such as prehistory and folklore studies. In this article, I propose two explanations for why medieval archaeology did not emerge as an interdisciplinary research field in the 1930s and 1940s, even though the course was set for its development. First, for archaeologists, art historians, and regional medieval historians, research objects such as medieval castles were semantically too indeterminate. Archaeologists would investigate a castle as a building completely destroyed and buried under rubble, while art historians would be interested in its building technique, and regional medieval historians in its written record. Second, disciplines that were important for the creation of medieval archaeology, such as prehistoric archaeology, art history, and regional medieval history, structurally did not allow for the emergence of an interdisciplinary research field in the 1930s. In particular, prehistoric archaeology, which was crucial for the development of medieval archaeology, itself was not fully institutionalized at universities in the 1930s. This institutionalization process prevented the emergence and development of an interdisciplinary research field such as medieval archaeology. To demonstrate this argument, I draw on two examples of investigations of castles, one in Nazi Germany and the other in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

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