Humann, Carl [sometimes "Karl"]

Date born: 1839

Place born: Steele/Essen, Germany

Date died: 1896

Place died: Smyrna, Greece

Self-educated archaeologist who discovered the Pergamon altar and later led the excavation. Humann was an innkeeper’s son. He studied engineering until a diagnosis of tuberculosis necessitated a move to a southern European climate. He worked as a surveyor in Turkey assigned to the railway and road construction departments. There, Humann gained a personal familiarity with the classical-era ruins. In 1878 he began excavating the site of Pergamon, secretly supported with funds from Alexander Conze (q.v.). In 1884, he made a “squeeze” (paper impression) of the Monumentum Ancyranum at the request of Theodor Momsen (1817-1903). The same year he was named foreign director of Royal Museum in Berlin, responsible for all Prussian archaeological expeditions in the Near East. His further excavations included Tralles (1888, Magnesia-on-the-Maeander (1890-93), Priene (1895), and Ephesos (1895). He continued at the Pergamon site until 1886, assisted by Wilhelm Dörpfeld (q.v.). Between 1878-1886 he excavated at Pergamon, discovering the great altar, located now in the Berlin museum, the finest example of Hellenistic sculpture. At his death in 1896 he was buried at the Catholic cemetery in Smyrna. In 1967 his remains were re-interred at Pergamon, the site of his spectacular find, just south of the altar.

Humann never studied archaeology or took an advanced degree of any kind. He exemplified the nineteenth-century self-made archaeologist, akin to Heinrich Schliemann (q.v.) and Dörpfeld.

Home Country: Germany

Sources: Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988: 69-70; Calder, William, III. “Carl Humann.” Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, p. 600.

Bibliography: and Conze, Alexander, and others. Die ergebnisse der ausgrabungen zu Peramon. Berlin: Weidmannsche buchhandlung, 1880; Der Pergamon Altar. Dortmund: Ardey Verlag, 1959; [and other members of] Orient-komitee, Berlin. Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli. 4 vols. Berlin, W. Spemann, 1893-1911.