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Instytut Archeologii UJ

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History of Krakow archaeology

The archaeological traditions at the Jagiellonian University date back to academic year 1863/64, when Józef Łepkowski (the future rector of the JU) delivered a series of lectures about archaeology and its place among historical disciplines. This contributed to the foundation of a provisional Chair in archaelogy in 1866 and a permanent one in 1874. These events are considered the beginning of archeology as an academic discipline in Poland.  

The Chair, headed by Józef Łepkowski, was supported by the "Archeological Room", in which various archaeological items were gathered for educational purposes. This gave birth to various archeological collections (both prehistoric and ancient) and to historic art collections, affiliated and unaffiliated with the University.

In 1897 the Chair in Classical Archaeology, under Piotr Bieńkowski, was established at the Jagiellonian University. This event proved to be a milestone in the development of Polish Mediterranean archaeology, whereas the actions of another JU scholar, Włodzimierz Demetrykiewicz contributed to the renaissance of prehistoric archaeology. In 1919 he took the Chair in Prehistory, at which he created the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology.

In 1930, after Piotr Bieńkowski's death, Stanisław Gąsiorowski became new head of the Chair in Classical Archaeology, whereas in 1933 the Chair in Prehistory was taken over by Demetrykiewicz's pupil, Józef Żurowski, who, in turn, after his premature death in 1936, was succeded by Tadeusz Sulimirski.

During the Second World War the most precious items from the collections of the JU Department of Prehistory were robbed by Nazi Germans (they were regained in 1947) and archaeology teaching was suspended. From 1945 on, the classes in classical archaeology were taught again, by Stanisław Gąsiorowski, who was removed from the Jagiellonian University for political reasons in 1953. The Chair in Prehistory was vacant for several years, as it was to be occupied by Tadeusz Sulimirski, who was in England. In 1950, after changing its name into Chair in Polish Archaeology, it was occupied by Rudolf Jamek.

In 1954 the JU Chair in Mediterranean Archaeology was assumed by Maria Ludwika Bernhard. In 1971 both chairs were merged into the JU Institute of Archaeology, under Rudolf Jamka. After his death in 1972, the subsequent heads of the Institute were: Janusz K. Kozłowski (1972-1976), Kazimierz Godłowski (1976-1990), Janusz A. Ostrowski (1990-1996), and Jan Chochorowski (1996-2008).