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Sanctuaries, Papyri and
Winged Goddesses

The Archaeologist Otto Rubensohn

Otto Rubensohn in front of the temple of Aphaia, Aegina, Greece
© Jüdisches Museum Berlin

In 2006, Dr. phil. Fortunatus Schnyder-Rubensohn donated the estate of his father-in-law, the classical archaeologist Otto Rubensohn to the Jewish Museum Berlin. Rubensohn’s excavations and academic work both made notable contributions to Berlin’s collection of papyri and to the study of the Greek island of Paros's ancient history. A symposium and a Cabinet Exhibition at the Jewish Museum honor the life and work of this Jewish scholar, who is still widely recognized by academics in his field.

Born and raised in Kassel, Otto Rubensohn (1867-1964) wrote his dissertation in Strasbourg under the supervision of Adolf Michaelis. He worked at the German Archaeological Institute in Athens from 1897 to 1899, and excavated the sanctuaries of Apollo and Asclepius on the island of Paros, where he also erected a museum for his many findings. From 1901 to 1907, Rubensohn led the Berlin Royal Museums' efforts to expand their papyrus collections. Aside from purchasing important papyri, his excavations uncovered significant findings, among them a prehistoric cemetery in Abusir el Melek, the so-called Taurinus archive in Eshmunen, and the Aramaic Papyri on the island of Elephantine. In 1909, he was appointed director of the newly-established Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, which he oversaw until 1915. In the following years until his retirement in 1932, he taught at a Gymnasium (secondary school) in Berlin, and continued to pursue his archaeological research.


18 February 2010 - 15 August 2010


Libeskind Building, Rafael Roth Learning Center


with the Museum ticket

After the National Socialists came to power, Rubensohn became increasingly isolated and was exposed to growing discrimination. In March 1939 he fled with his wife to Switzerland. There he continued his research in Basel and at the age of 94 published his most important book, "Das Delion von Paros."

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