Sanctuaries, Papyri and Winged Goddesses

The Archaeologist Otto Rubensohn

In 2006, Dr. Fortunatus Schnyder-Rubensohn donated the estate of his late father-in-law, the classical archaeologist Otto Rubensohn to the Jewish Museum Berlin. Rubensohn's excavations and scholarship made notable contributions to Berlin’s collection of papyri and the study of the classical history of the Greek island of Paros. In 2010, a symposium and a showcase exhibition at the Jewish Museum honored the life and work of this Jewish scholar, who is still widely recognized by academics in his field.

Past exhibition

Map with all buildings that belong to the Jewish Museum Berlin. The Libeskind building is marked in green


Libeskind Building, lower level
Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

Otto Rubensohn

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. In 1898, he was commissioned to excavate 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. He also directed the Papyrus Cartel, established in 1902. Aside from purchasing important papyri, his excavations uncovered significant findings, among them a prehistoric cemetery in Abusir el Melek, the 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.

After the Nazis came to power, Rubensohn became increasingly isolated and was subjected 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 (The Delion of Paros).

About the Exhibition

The exhibition Sanctuaries, Papyri and Winged Goddesses: The Archaeologist Otto Rubensohn brought together archaeological artifacts from the Egyptian Museum of Berlin and the Papyrus Collection, the Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim, and the University of Münster's Archaeological Museum, which holds his important private collection. For the first time, some of his personal items – photographs, journals, letters, and documents – were on display from Otto Rubensohn's bequest.

Exhibition Information at a Glance

  • When

    18 Feb to 15 Aug 2010

  • Where

    Libeskind Building, lower level
    Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
    See Location on Map

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