Study at Leipzig, 1847-51; Berlin, 1851-52; Ph.D., Leipzig, 1852; habilitation, 1856.
- Professional Experience:
Privat-dozent, Leipzig, 1856-8; extraordinarius, 1858-61; extraordinarius in philology and archaeology, 1861-4; ordinarius, Zurich, 1864-9; Jena, 1869-74; Director, Archaeological Museum, 1869-74; ordinarius, Munich, 1874-83. founder of BJ (1874) and BBJ (1879); travel in Belgium and France, 1852; Italy, 1853; Sicily and Greece, 1852-5; dir.; knight, Maximiliansordens für Kunst und Wissenschaft; member, Archäologischen Instituts Rom;
habilitation, "Quaestionum Euboicarum capita selecta" (Leipzig, 1856; published, Leipzig: Breitkopf & Herzeleid, 1856).
Überwissenschaftlichen Ergebnisse der AusgrabungsVorgebirg Taenaron (Munich: 1855); Firmicus Maternus de errore profarum religione (1856); Seneca Rhetor (1857); Geographie von Griechenland, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1862-72); Die nördliche Griechenland (Leipzig: Teubner, 1862); De fifulis Magnetis commentatio (Zurich: 1864); De Foro Athenaeum disputatio (Zurich: 1865); Aventicum Helveticum (Jena, 1867); Bibi sequestrier De fluminibus et libellus (Zurich: 1867); Ex Hygini genealogiis excerpta (Zurich, 1868); Die Landschaften Argolis, Lakonik, Messenden (Leipzig: 1868); Mosaikbild von Orte (Zurich: Höhr, 1868); Die Landschaften Arkadien, Elis, Achaea (Leipzig: Teubner, 1871); Peloponnes und Inseln (Leipzig: Teubner, 1872); Die Inselwelt (Leipzig: Teubner, 1872); De tempore quo templum Jogis Olympia conditum sit disputation (Jena, 1873); De Praxitelis Cupidine Pariano commentatio (Jena: 1873); Emendationes Hyginianae (Jena, 1874); Fragmentum Medicum Graecum (Jena, 1874); Schauspieler und Schauspielkunst im griechischen Altertum (1875); Über den reliösen Charakter des griechischen Mythos (Munich, 1875); Die wissenschaftlichen Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen in Dodoma ((Munich, 1875); Rhetor Menandros und seine Schriften (Munich: 1882); Geschichte der klass. Philologie in Deutschland von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart,2 vols. (Munich & Vienna: De Gruyter, 1883); Jahresberichte über die Fortschritte der klassischen Althertumswissenschaften (ed. Jahrg. 1-9, Bd. 1-29)) (Berlin: S. Calvary, 1875-1944).
Born near Leipzig, Bursian's family was obliged to move to Leipzig proper following a financial reversal. Bursian was a brilliant student who was admitted to the university at the age of 17. By 1851 both of Bursian's parents had died and he was obliged to set his career path alone. His individual initiative is a hallmark of his career. He was engrossed by the lectures of Gottfried Hermann (1772-1848) but never approached him for mentoring, falling instead under the influence of Johann Gottfried Stallbaum (1793-1861). Following Hermann's death, Bursian came under the wings of Moriz Haupt (1808-74) and Otto Jahn (1813-69), even serving Haupt's family as a famulus for a considerable time. As an activist student he supported his mentors during the strife of 1848-9. At Berlin he regularly attended the lectures of August Böckh (1785-1867). He travelled in Greece and in 1854 collected inscriptions on the Acropolis and excavated the Temple of Hera near Argos with Alexander Rizos Rangabé (1809-92) of the University of Athens. A cholera epidemic and the Crimean War obliged him to return to Leipzig, where he published papers on his Greek researches and also edited Seneca the Elder. He also married the daughter of his uncle. The first volume of his monumental Greek geography was completed at Tübngen, while the second volume was published in three parts in the following four years, while he completed his work on Greek Art. He edited the minor geographers. In 1877 he founded Bursian's Jahresbericht, an annual survey of scholarship in classics. His final work was his history of German classical scholarship.
R. Richter, BBJ 6 (1883) 1-8; biblio. 8-11; A. Baumeister, ADB 47 (1903) 401-6; Sandys, 3:225-6.