Research Projects

  • (B-4-1) The art of conjuration – an example of the regionalization of "global" knowledge

    The extensive surviving ritual literature of the Hittite archives is distinguished by its clear connections to non-Hittite sources; “foreign” rituals were adopted in Hattusa, and a whole series of rituals can be explicitly differentiated in terms of regional “ritual schools” – or at least they give this impression. The sources provide not only the name of the “author” of individual rituals, but also his place of origin; whole groups are assigned places of origin, so that the literature speaks of “Arzawa Rituals”, “Kizzuwatna Rituals”, and so on. However, whereas in the archives of the capital city Hattusa one encounters a whole series of rituals that very clearly originate from elsewhere – Northern Syria, Mittani, Assyria or Babylon – the majority of this “imported” ritual literature does not differ from the remaining Hittite sources. Thus, the question naturally arises what was the nature of the statements of origin contained in so many of these texts. Are we actually dealing with local reception of “global” knowledge, or with a fiction? Can the knowledge that underlies these rituals and ritual groups be distinguished on the basis of regional origins? More generally, what role is played by this regional localization of knowledge traditions? Can knowledge be divided into “global” and “regional”, and if so, how do these classes interact?

  • (B-4-2) Region and memoria: Local history and local myths on Thracian provincial coins

    The focus of this numismatic research project was the comparative analysis of the coinage of two Thracian poleis, both of which minted coins under Roman rule. The first polis is Philippopolis (modern Plovdiv), located in central Thrace, and the seat of the Thracian Koinon; the other is the western Thracian polis Pautalia (modern Kjustendil), whose warm healing springs had provided the city with high supra-regional prestige already in antiquity.

  • (B-4-3) Migration narratives and landscape of identity

    This project focused on repetitive plots and role patterns historians and archaeologists use to describe and explain human migration, thereby constructing landscapes of identity.

  • (B-4-4) Shifting things and identity

    One of the fundamental questions of archaeology is the linking of spatially situated material culture to identities. Without taking recourse to the essentialist assumptions that have lately fallen under scrutiny concerning the existence of static and hermetic entities, this project investigated the dynamic correlation between collective identities, knowledge and space.

  • (B-4-5) Thirdspaces: The early 1st Millennium in northern Mesopotamia

    “Third Space” in the postmodern geography of Edward Soja is an approach built on Henri Lefebvre’s theory of specific “modes of production of spaces”. Lefebvre distinguishes a perceived, a represented and a lived space (espace perçu, espace conçu, espace vécu).

  • (B-4-6) Deir Anba Hadra. Socio-cultural and economic significance of a holy place in Upper Egypt from late antiquity to early Mamluk period

    Deir Anba Hadra, also known as monastery of St. Simeon, is located on the West bank of Assuan across from Elephantine island about one kilometer inland on the gebel, overlooking a desert valley. Its ruin, dominated by the monumental residential tower, belongs to the best-preserved specimens of monastic architecture from late antique and early Islamicate Egypt. The ongoing work on the monastery, a cooperation between the German Archaeological Institute, Dept. Cairo, and the Excellence Cluster Topoi further expands on the architectural history of the church, its painted decoration, the economic buildings of the monastery, and archaeo-botanical research.


  • (B-4-1-1) The global ritual knowledge and the local ritual schools in the Hittite tradition

    The Hittite ritual corpus known from the Hittite archives shows that the presence of compositions ascribed to different traditions originated both inside and outside of Hittite Anatolia. In this textual corpus it is possible to distinguish central Anatolian compositions (characterized by Hittite, Hattian or even Luwian elements), “foreign” rituals perhaps imported from outside of the empire (i.e. Mesopotamia and Syria), and rituals attributable to more or less specific Anatolian “peripheral” areas – dominated by a specific speaking group, that eventually became part of the Hittite kingdom (Arzawa, Kizzuwatna, the Lower Land). The main goal of this project is the study of these regional ritual traditions and the identification of their specific features through the analysis of some of the compositions which have been labelled as “foreign” by both Hittite scribes and modern scholars.

  • (B-4-4-1) Travelling Things: Thinking on the character of ‘Roman imports’ in Central Germany’s ‘Barbaricum’

    The aim of this study was to investigate the character of the “Roman import” phenomenon. In the past, “Roman imports” were usually discussed as objects in anthropocentric conceptualized contexts like trade contacts, mercenary services, gift exchanges, predatory economies and ethnic identities. In his dissertation project, by contrast, Schreiber offers a thinking perspective, that ‘Roman import’ should not be seen merely as a scientific construction, or an empirical category. Instead, he takes a symmetrical point of view. From a theoretical neo-materialistic perspective, Schreiber argues that things are not objects but assemblages (cf. DeLanda). They are heterogeneous and fluid entities. Therefore, to analyze things means to analyze not their stable essences but their intra-active enactments (cf. Barad) and entanglements.

  • (B-4-5-1) Thirdspace in Assyria and Urartu

    This thesis deals with the formation and transformation of identities in ancient Assyria and Urartu by using H. Levebvres and E. Soja`s theoretical framework of the so called Thirdspace.

  • (B-4-6-1) Deir Anba Hadra. A socio-cultural study

    The monastery of Anba Hadra is one of the best-preserved monasteries of Egypt and is situated on the west bank of the Nile opposite of modern Aswan. Two main corpora of Coptic inscriptions were found in the monastic precinct which provide information about the monastery’s building history, the religious beliefs of the Copts, the daily life in a monastery in southern Egypt and the use of the Coptic language: funerary stelae as well as graffiti and dipinti. Furthermore, some ostraca and fragments of papyri and parchment came to light during previous excavations but are lost today.

  • (B-4-6-2) A medieval workshop from Deir Anba Hadra (Assuan, Egypt)

    Using architectural (Structure-from-Motion/Drawings) and archaeological (Excavations) research methods this thesis will discusses the different phases of building, shifting room use and its associated economic installations of Deir Anba Hadra.

  • (B-4-JRG-1) Studies of the Assyrian Royal Narrative’s Transtextual Poetics

    The project researches the transtextual poetics of the Assyrian lordly-narrative texts in a diachronic-analytical approach.

Third-party Funded Projects

  • (B-4-COFUND-1) Sense of place and identity in the prehistoric Mediterranean Islands

    Islands have a distinct “sense of place”: studies of present-day island communities indicate that their perceived physical containment, which is felt particularly on small islands, results in strong place identification or in an “island identity”.  As an archaeologist, Helen Dawson is interested in finding evidence for such place-identification in the past. The smaller islands surrounding Sicily, with their rich archaeological record, provided ideal case studies to test these ideas – from their initial colonisation during the Neolithic to their becoming integrated in wider trading and inter-cultural networks during the Bronze Age (ca. 5500-900 BCE).

  • (B-4-COFUND-2) The land and its people. Quantifying environment impact on identity in the late iron age of Europe through modelling techniques

    This project focused on Central and South-East Europe during the Late Iron Age, a time considered the dawn of large group identity in the region. It represents a pilot study that aims to build into a wider project with a larger data sample.