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2009 | 54 | 1 | 7-11

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PROFESSOR DR. WITOLD HENSEL, MEMBER OF THE POLISH ACADEMY OF SCIENCES (29.03.1917 - 22.11.2008) (Prof. dr hab. Witold Hensel, czlonek rzeczywisty Polskiej Akademii Nauk (29.03.1917 - 22.11.2008)


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Prof. Dr. Witold Hensel died at the age of over 91. An outstanding scholar, he had also excelled as an organizer of science, educator of several generations of young researchers, a monumental influence on the history of Polish archaeology and equally deserving as far as the development of Slavic - and more broadly speaking - European archaeology is concerned. Many of the 960 works he had written and published were groundbreaking and he was the initiator or co-initiator of several scholarly and organizational undertakings. It was at his inspiration, among others, that a program of research on the beginnings of the Polish State was created in the late 1940s and an organizational framework for studies on the material culture of the early Slavs in the early 1960s. Professor Hensel initiated and subsequently presided over the First International Congress of Slavic Archaeology in 1965, going on to preside over the International Union of Slavic Archaeology. He also initiated and directed research on the beginnings of Polish towns, followed by Slav towns and European ones. Professor Hensel co-organized and in 1954-1989 directed the Institute of the History of Material Culture (renamed the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in 1992) of the PAS bringing together archaeology, ethnography and studies on medieval and modern-age material culture. During his term in office the Institute became a leading research institution in Poland, conducting research in the disciplines listed above and embarking on broad-scale excavations in Poland, Bulgaria, Macedonia, France, Italy and Algeria. Professor Hensel educated and gathered together to work at the Institute the biggest staff of qualified researchers specializing in different aspects of archaeology. He established a number of periodicals and publishing series; numerous monograph studies and five multi-volume syntheses were prepared on his initiative. He was a founder or co-founder of the International Committee for Research on Town Origins, International Commission for Research on Early Medieval Slav Cultures and president or member of national and foreign scientific councils, including the International Union of Pre- and Protohistoric Sciences, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, member of several scholarly associations and science academies, doctor honoris causa of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. He was a member of the Presidium and Secretary of Division I (Social Sciences) of the PAS. He also received a number of awards, orders and medals: twice the State Award of the 2nd Degree, several times the awards of the Minister of National Education and Scientific Secretary of the PAS. His death has closed an entire age, an era of outstanding personalities in Polish archaeology. He was an unquestioned authority for a few generations of archaeologists, the Master who helped to shape the professional attitudes of many young researchers, a model for their studies and an unfailing inspiration for their research. Farewells are always sad, but in this case there is a shining beacon - the multitude of his disciples and followers.








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  • Maria Dekowna, Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, al. Solidarnosci 105, 00-140 Warszawa, Poland


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