Adolf Kirchhoff was the son of the historical and portrait painter Johann Jakob Kirchhoff and his wife Wilhelmine nee Reuter. His brothers were the booksellers Albrecht (1827-1902) and Otto Kirchhoff ( 1834-1910 ).
Adolf Kirchhoff completed the Friedrich- Wilhelm-Gymnasium in Berlin. After the matriculation examination in 1842 he moved into the local Friedrich- Wilhelms- University, where he studied classical philology at Karl Lachmann and August Boeckh. After receiving his doctorate in 1846 he was adjunct, then head teacher and professor at the Joachimsthal Gymnasium in Berlin. In 1860 he was elected a full member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences. In 1865 he followed a call to the chair of Greek philology as successor Boeckh and was promoted to full professor.
Kirchhoff has partly acquired by the criticism of Greek writers, partly to the epigraphy high merit. In the former relationship he delivered especially for Homer:
- Quaestionum Homericarum particula (Berlin 1846), then
- The Homeric Odyssey and its origin ( Berlin, 1859 ) and
- The composition of the Odyssey, collected essays (Berlin, 1869), which he in the 2nd edition to The Homeric Odyssey (Berlin 1879) combined and extended, for Plotinus a text edition ( Leipzig, 1856, 2 vols ), a critical edition of Euripides ( Berlin in 1855, 2 vols ) and a text output (Berlin 1867-68, 3 vols ), for Herodotus About the time of composition of the Herodotischen historical work (Berlin 1868, 2nd edition 1878), Xenophon for an edition of the treatise De republica Atheniensium ( Berlin 1874, 2nd edition 1881), for Aeschylus a text edition (Berlin, 1880).
Of his epigraphic studies, the first results on Italy -related; there appeared:
- The Umbrian language Monuments ( Berlin 1849-51, 2 vols ) and
- The municipal law of Bantia (Berlin 1853).
He then published on the Germanic runes:
- The Gothic Runic Alphabet (Berlin 1852) and
- The Frankish runes ( in Moriz Haupt's magazine for German Antiquity, 1855).
In addition, he has promoted the Greek Inscription. He worked for the Corpus inscriptionum Graecarum the second fascicle of the 4th band ( the Christian inscriptions containing, Berlin, 1859 ) and led the entire company at the end, he manages on behalf of the Academy, the corpus inscriptionum atticarum to which himself the first band ( containing the inscriptions before Euclid, das. 1873) has provided, and wrote: studies in the History of the Greek alphabet ( Berlin. 1863, 4th edition 1887). He was also involved in the drafting of the 1866-81 Hermes.