History of the Institute of Oriental Studies

The Institute of Oriental Studies (IOS) at the University of Leipzig has a long and interesting history. It was established in 1728 when Johann Christian Clodius (d. 1745) became the first professor for Arabic language. Later, Johann Jakob Reiske (d. 1774) established the science of Arabic Studies based on his philological work. The development of Arabic studies at the University of Leipzig is strongly connected with the work of Heinrich Leberecht Fleischer (d. 1888), who wrote and edited many important books such as The Commentary of the Holy Quran by Baidawi. After the death of Fleischer, August Socin (d. 1899) became the new director of the Institute. Another inspirational director, August Fischer (d. 1949), began reorganising the structure of the Institute during the winter semester of 1900/1901. Together with his colleague, Heinrich Zimmern (d. 1931), an expert in Assyrian Studies, they founded the "Semitistic Institute", which developed into an internationally renowned institute in the area of Philology.

Scientific journals like the "Leipziger Semitistische Studien" and "Islamica", written by profesors of the Semitistic Institute, promoted the discourse of language and culture of the Orient. Many other internationally renowned professors such as Hans Stumme (d. 1936) and Paul Schwarz (d. 1938) also worked at the Semitistic Institute. Unfortunately, the well equipped library of the institute was practically destroyed by the bombardment of the city on December 4, 1943. After World War II, Hans Siegfried Schuster (d. 2002) began to promote Islamic and Arabic studies at the Oriental Institute again. He succeeded in reestablishing an incredible library from many donations, which forms the backbone of the Institute's library today. After his resignation two other contemporary professors, Wolfgang Reuschel (d. 1991) and Guenter Krahl (d. 1992), continued researching on the theories of Arab philology.

Hans-Georg Ebert


* · See Preissler, H., " Arabic Studies in Leipzig from the 18th Century to the middle of the 20th Century ", in: Scientific magazine of the University of Leipzig, vol. one - History and Linguistics, Leipzig 28 (1979) 1, P. 28-105

last update: September 01, 2017