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Germany's Ancient PastsArchaeology and Historical Interpretation since 1700$
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Brent Maner

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226592916

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226593104.001.0001

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Rudolf Virchow and the Anthropological Orientation of Prehistory

Rudolf Virchow and the Anthropological Orientation of Prehistory

(p.117) Chapter Four Rudolf Virchow and the Anthropological Orientation of Prehistory
Germany's Ancient Pasts

Brent Maner

University of Chicago Press

New discoveries in geology and archaeology during the 1850s and 1860s exploded both the chronological sweep and the geographical scope of earlier antiquarian practices. The main effect of these discoveries was that domestic archaeology became an auxiliary science to anthropology. Archaeology addressed new questions about daily life, social organization, and cultural development in the ancient past. Rudolf Virchow, who led the German Anthropological Association during the late nineteenth century, was very cautious regarding claims about the ethnic and racial classification of archaeological finds, and he encouraged the practitioners of domestic archaeology to pose research questions in terms of the general development of humankind, not the investigation of early national communities. This anthropological orientation shaped the interactions between the DAG and historical associations and the discussions at the DAG’s annual meetings about the concepts of nation, ethnicity, and race.

Keywords:   Rudolf Virchow, German Anthropological Association, nationalism, physical anthropology, craniology, racial studies

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