The Chair of Ancient History at the Friedrich Schiller University has a long tradition dating back to 1882. Its first holders, Heinrich Gelzer and Walther Judeich, set standards with their decades of successful work. Gelzer, who held a professorship that included not only Ancient History but also Classical Philology, stood out among others as co-founder of the "Byzantinische Zeitschrift", which still exists today; Judeich's "Topography of Athens" is still a reference work.
In the 1930s, Jena's Chair of Ancient History was not spared the turmoil of the end of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Fritz Schachermeyr, the chair holder from 1931 to 1936, showed a clear affinity to National Socialism. The scholars who followed him (Hans Schaefer, Hermann Bengtson and Viktor Burr) were no longer appointed as full professors and thus were not able to open up any future-oriented perspectives for the chair, especially after the outbreak of the Second World War and in the aftermath of the collapse in 1945.
After 1947, the Chair of Ancient History was no longer held by a professor. Initially, assistant lecturers provided lessons in Ancient History. The appointment of Wolfgang Müller and Detlef Lotze as university lecturers (1954 and 1963 respectively) brought back some continuity. Thanks to the latter, the core of Jena's Ancient History was preserved until the Peaceful Revolution of 1989/90. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Chair gained a firm place among the chairs of Ancient History in Germany, first under Lotze himself, who had now been promoted to chair holder, and then under his successor Walter Ameling.
Current research focuses on Late Antiquity and the migration of peoples, Archaic and Classical Greece, the late Roman Republic, as well as the history of the ancient Caucasus region and the contact zones between the Roman Empire and the Parthian-Sāsānid domain in the Imperial period and Late Antiquity.