American Philosophical Society
Member History

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4. Humanities[X]
1Name:  Dr. Walter Burkert
 Institution:  University of Zurich
 Year Elected:  1987
 Class:  4. Humanities
 Subdivision:  405. History and Philology, East and West, through the 17th Century
 Residency:  International
 Living? :   Deceased
 Birth Date:  1931
 Death Date:  March 11, 2015
An Emeritus Professor of Classics at the University of Zurich, Walter Burkert was a well-known historian of Greek religion. He brought methodological innovation and keen insight to the ancient texts and materials of his field, and his work has implications for all aspects of ancient Mediterranean studies, from literature to science to philosophy to religion. Dr. Burkert received training in classical philology, history and philosophy at the Universities of Erlangen and Munich, obtained his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Erlangen in 1955 and taught there over much of the next ten years. In 1965 he served as a junior fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. for one year before becoming a professor of classical philology at the Technical University of Berlin. He joined the faculty of the University of Zurich in 1969 and taught there for 27 years before retiring. He had published books on the balance between lore and science in the followers of Pythagoras; on ritual and archaic cult survival; on the ritual killing at the heart of religion; and on the reception in the Hellenic world of Near Eastern and Persian culture, which sets Greek religion in its wider Aegean and Near Eastern context. Among his works are Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth (English translation, 1982), which is considered an outstanding account of concepts in Greek religion; Ancient Mystery Cults (1987); and Creation of the Sacred (1996). Walter Burkert died March 11, 2015, at the age of 84 in Zurich, Switzerland.
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