Bernhard Overbeck (1942-2018)

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by Björn Schöpe
translated by Almuth Klingner

July 26, 2018 – It was his father who got Bernhard Overbeck started on coins. As he once told in an interview, he would look over his father’s shoulder as a young boy – and wanted to do everything differently. For him, that meant collecting ancient coins. He stayed faithful to them for his entire life.

From 1960/61 onwards, Overbeck studied Pre- and Early History, Ancient History and Archaeology of the Roman Provinces in Munich, with a short episode at the University of Frankfurt, where he met ancient historian Konrad Kraft in 1963/64. In 1969, together with prehistorian Joachim Werner, Overbeck wrote his doctoral thesis at the University of Munich: “Geschichte des Alpenrheintals in römischer Zeit. Auf Grund der archäologischen Zeugnisse” [History of the Alpine Rhine Valley in Roman Times. On the basis of archeological evidence]. In the same year, Bernhard Overbeck took up his position as conservator at the Staatliche Münzsammlung in Munich; simultaneously, he gave lectures at the Munich university.
In 1981 in Augsburg, he wrote his postdoctoral thesis “Untersuchungen zu den keltischen Münzen des Büscheltyps. Ein Beitrag zur Geldgeschichte der Spätlatènezeit in Bayern” [Studies of the Celtic Büschel coins. A contribution to the monetary history of the late La Tène period in Bavaria], habilitating on the subjects of Ancient History and Auxiliary Sciences of History.

Between 1991 and 2006, Bernhard Overbeck was director of the Staatliche Münzsammlung Munich. He curated or contributed to important exhibitions, such as those about Roman Architecture on Coins and Medals (1973, in collaboration with D. Steinhilber and I. Weber), about Late Antiquity between Heathenism and Christianity (1989, in collaboration with J. Garbsch), and about Egypt in Roman Times (1989, in collaboration with D. O. A. Klose and S. Schoske).
Many will remember the Israeli ambassador Avi Primor coming to visit the exhibition about the Coins and Seals from the Holy Land in 1993, in the creation of which the prominent expert in Jewish numismatics, Yaakov Meshorer, had also played a part.

Bernhard Overbeck gained international renown, not only with these exhibitions and his extensive writings about ancient, especially Celtic, numismatics. Upon invitation of the American Numismatic Society, he went to New York as guest lecturer in 1980. Later, he taught as guest professor at the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and at the University of Texas in Austin.

On July 8, 2018, Bernhard Overbeck died at the age of 76.

You can read a comprehensive obituary (in German) by Kay Ehling on the website of Augsburg university.

A comprehensive obituary will follow soon.