Preserving – Researching – Presenting
The collections of the Archaeological Museum Frankfurt comprise objects ranging from the Palaeolithic to the early Modern Period. The majority of the finds originates from excavations in the city of Frankfurt and its surrounding areas. In fulfilment of its role within the city archaeology, the museum preserves, researches and presents the excavated finds. In addition, it houses significant archaeological collections from the Mediterranean and ancient Near East that have been donated or purchased. The exact origin of these, however, is not always known.
The ideal case: finds from scientific excavations
In an ideal scenario, the archaeological objects held by museums originate from excavations conducted by professionals. The key prerequisite for a comprehensive scientific evaluation of the finds is the documentation of the exact circumstances of discovery. Only then can finds be understood within their broader context and dates assigned to excavated findings. For all objects that come from the antiquities trade or illicit excavations, this information is effectively missing. All over the world archaeological museum collections include purchased and donated artefacts of unknown origin.
The collections of the Archaeological Museum Frankfurt
Museum collections are always a reflection of the political climate prevalent in a society. How objects are being acquired, and the ethics underlying this practice, are subject to change. In that sense, the collections of the Archaeological Museum Frankfurt also reflect the history of the city of Frankfurt. By presenting three examples, this exhibition illustrates political as well as scientific implications of Provenance Research:
1. Suspicious cases: Cultural policy 1933-1945
2. The special case of Iranian bronzes: Pioneers, diplomats, collectors
3. Findspot Nida? – Research and illicit excavations in “German Pompeii”