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2008 | 53 | 1 | 55-82

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PROFESSOR WITOLD HENSEL - SCHOLAR, ORGANIZER, TEACHER. OUTLINE OF ACTIVITIES (Prof. dr hab. Witold Hensel - badacz, organizator, dydaktyk. Zarys dzialalnosci)


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Professor Witold Hensel, member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, doctor honoris causa of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, member of many scientific institutions and organizations, laureate of several polish and foreign awards, is unquestionably a distinguished representative of Polish archaeology. His achievements are impressive indeed, covering scholarly, as well as organizational, editorial and educational activities. Professor Hensel is foremost a scholar and the author of about 960 printed works, many of which were of pioneering importance for new directions of research. Among these is his 'The need to organize a great anniversary', which laid the foundations for a program of comprehensive archaeological excavations, carried out by institutions established for the purpose, in the biggest centers of the Piast state, the chief element of the millennium celebrations of Polish statehood. Then there is the article 'Barrier of sound', in which He emphasized the role of technological studies on archaeological objects in contributing important data on the everyday life of ancient communities and presented a project for organizing cooperation between archaeologists and natural scientists in this respect. This program was implemented by the Institute of the History of Material Culture of which prof. Hensel was a longtime director. Among his other inspirational works which contributed to the development of studies on key issues of prehistory and medieval history of societies inhabiting Polish lands, as well as other regions of Europe, one should mention his books and articles on the origins of Polish towns, then on Slavic and all European origins, and his research on prehistoric and Early Medieval communities in Poland as well as the material culture of the Slavs. In 1953, the Institute of the History of Material Culture PAN was established (from 1992 the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology PAN). Professor Witold Hensel helped to organize it and headed it from 1954 until 1989. This period has come to be called the 'Golden Age' of the Institute. Professor Hensel also initiated, often in association with other institutions, broad-scale archaeological excavations, first in Poland and then abroad, in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Italy, France and Algeria. He organized and presided over the First International Congress of Slavic Archaeology in 1965. It was his initiative to establish the International Union of Slavic Archaeology, of which he was named President, which subsequently organized many important congresses in various countries. The Professor initiated a number of periodicals and publishing series, and oversaw a rich output of scientific monographs. An enormous undertaking during his time in office as Institute Director was the preparation and publishing of five huge multi-volume syntheses, prepared in the 1970s and first half of the 1980s, summing up the state of research on the history and development of societies inhabiting Polish lands and other regions in the past, as well as the transformation of Polish folk tradition. These projects had to be undertaken by large research groups. Professor Hensel had the commendable ability to bring together many talented scholars and to teach young students of archaeology how to excel. Of the professors active today in archaeology in Poland, the largest group comprises Professor's students.The editorial team presented Prof. Witold Hensel with the volume of 'Archeologia Polski' (no. 52) dedicated to Him.1 Figure








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  • Maria Dek√≥wna, Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, al. Solidarnosci 105, 00-140 Warszawa, Poland


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