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Between Royal Graves and the Pawnshop
Max Ohnefalsch-Richter (1850–1917) and the Archaeology of Cyprus

01.12.2017 to 04.03.2018
Neues Museum

To this day, the collection of Cypriot finds assembled by Max Hermann Ohnefalsch-Richter not only stands alongside Heinrich Schliemann’s ‘Trojan antiquities’ as one of the most important collections in Berlin’s Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, but is also one of the most important Cypriot collections anywhere in the world. Berlin’s Antikensammlung also owes a great many of its archaeological finds from this Mediterranean island to Ohnefalsch-Richter. Yet although his scientific achievements are no less important than those of Schliemann, his chaotic life was not as crowned by wealth and happiness as that of his famous contemporary. Completely impoverished and seriously ill, he died in Berlin in February 1917 and was buried in a linear cemetery.

Like Schliemann, Ohnefalsch-Richter had no scientific training when he embarked on his study of the archaeology of Cyprus. He carried out important excavations on the island, particularly during the 1880s. Yet all his attempts to gain a foothold in archaeology failed. Nevertheless, it was Ohnefalsch-Richter’s work, characterised by careful excavation and documentation, which laid the foundations for an increasingly systematic and professional tradition of Cypriot research. Ohnefalsch-Richter thus had a decisive influence on our knowledge of the archaeology and history of Cyprus.

A hundred years after his death, this small display, Between Royal Graves and the Pawnshop – Max Ohnefalsch-Richter (1850–1917) and the Archaeology of Cyprus, commemorates an unjustly almost-forgotten archaeologist. It has been staged by the Winckelmann-Institut of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin with support from the embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Berlin and in cooperation with two of the Staatliche Museen’s archaeological collections: the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte and the Antikensammlung. Displayed in the Cyprus Room of the Neues Museum, it traces the stages of Max Ohnefalsch-Richter’s life and his contributions to the archaeology of Cyprus – surrounded by the treasures he once unearthed.

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