Born Sept. 20, 1865, in Klatovy; died June 14, 1944, in Prague. Czech archaeologist, ethnographer, and specialist in Slavic history. Member of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
Niederle graduated from the faculty of philosophy at the University of Prague in 1887. He was a professor of prehistoric archaeology and ethnography at the university from 1898 to 1929. The founder and first director (1919–24) of the Archaeological Institute in Prague, he initially devoted himself to prehistoric archaeology and the archaeology of ancient Greece and Rome; later he turned to Slavic archaeology. In his Mankind in Prehistoric Times (1893; Russian translation, 1898), Niederle gave an account of the archaeology of all of Europe from the Paleolithic period to the Middle Ages. Between 1902 and 1934 he published the multivolume work Slavic Antiquities (vols. 1–3, 1902–19; part 2 published under the title The Culture of Ancient Slavs, vols. 1–3, 1911–34), which was noted for its scientific accuracy and objectivity. In this work Niederle brought together everything that was then known about the Slavs of the ninth to 12th centuries, primarily from excavations in Bohemia and Russia. He depicted the colorful and distinctive culture of the Slavs and established the existence of cultural unity among the Slavic peoples in the Middle Ages by relying on archaeological findings and comparing these findings to general historical, philological, and ethnographic materials. He resolutely opposed the attempts of some reactionary scholars to belittle Slavic culture. An extreme skeptic in matters of ethnogeny, Niederle held that nothing certain was known about the ancient Slavs and that only the Slavic materials of the Middle Ages could be subjected to analysis. In 1931, Niederle published A Handbook on Slavic Archaeology, in which his archaeological research was summed up.
REFERENCESSiniuk, A. T. “L. Niederle.” Voprosy istorii slavian, 1966, issue 2.
Eisner, I. L. Niederle. Prague, 1948.
A. V. ARTSIKHOVSKII