The Institute's collection of photographs dates back to the invention of photography. After the death of Walther Amelung (1927), the Institute inherited the collection that he had acquired for his own research purposes. From 1928 onwards, his successor, Ludwig Curtius, proceeded to systematically organize and expand the photo archive, thus giving it its current form. In the early 1930s, the Institute acquired a laboratory and established the post of an in-house photographer. As a result, the collection has grown considerably and extensive photo campaigns have given it varying foci. Today the Roman photo archive is a unique research tool in archaeology.
The photo archive consists of ca. 280,000 black-and-white photographs; for about 200,000 of these negatives are available. The collection is arranged according to the main categories within classical archaeological research:
Ideal sculpture (deities; mythological figures; non-mythological statues; animals; mythical creatures/chimeras)
Portrait sculpture (Greek; Etruscan-Italic; Roman)
Sarcophagi (Greek; Etruscan; Republican-Early Imperial; Imperial; Christian)
Reliefs (Greek; Greek/South Italian; Etruscan; Roman)
Architectural sculpture (Greece; Magna Graecia; Italy; support figures; theatre decorations; architectural elements; historic reliefs)
Inscriptions (Greek; Latin)
Stucco (Etruscan; Roman)
Fresco painting (Etruscan; Italic/South Italian; Pompeian; Roman)
Mosaics (focus on: Italy; Roman provinces)
Topography (Greece; Italy; selected Roman provinces)
Vases (Proto-geometric; Geometric; Proto-Corinthian; Corinthian; Eastern Greek; Western Greek; Lakonian; Chalcidian; Boeotian; Attic; Italic-Etruscan; South Italian; Hellenistic; Roman)
Terracotta (focus on Italy: figurative, architectural)
Bronze (statuettes; mirrors; arms; devices; vessels)
Minor arts (glass; gemstones; prints of intaglios)
Pictures of stone monuments in Italian country towns.
Current photo archives.
Scholars of all nationalities have access.
Approximately 266,000 photographs were issued in the form of microfiche editions (Index of Ancient Art and Architecture) and are at the disposal of most university archaeological institutes and university libraries.
Monday to Friday, 09am - 1pm