Research Projects

  • (D-1-1) Mathematical astronomy in Babylonia

    In this project various operational, mathematical, astronomical, conceptual and theoretical aspects of Babylonian mathematical astronomy were investigated. Babylonian mathematical astronomy comprises about 440 cuneiform tablets and fragments from the Achaemenid, Seleucid and Parthian eras of the Late Babylonian period (400-50 BCE). The tablets were found in Babylon and Uruk, two main centers of Babylonian science.

  • (D-1-2) Signs and causal reasoning

    This project investigated how natural phenomena in different realms of nature (celestial, medical, terrestrial) were interpreted as signs, and how the notion of natural sign changed in Babylonia and Greece, as evidenced by innovations in various textual corpora including Babylonian astronomical diaries, predictive astronomical methods (e.g. the Babylonian Goal-Year method and mathematical astronomy) and contemporaneous developments in astrology, other fields of divination and medicine. The main aims of the project were A: To establish a methodology of signs and its connection to modern concepts of causal reasoning; B: To map how theories underlying the interpretation of signs were actually used in various fields of reasoning.

  • (D-1-3) Empirical knowledge and observation in antiquity

    The aim of this project was to analyse empirical procedures and observational practices in selected natural sciences of the first Millennium BCE in Mesopotamia (astronomy, medicine, flora).

  • (D-1-4) Organisation and practice of ancient science

    This project was concerned with organisational, practical and other contextual aspects of scholarship in Babylonia, Greece, the Greco-Roman world and Egypt during the period 600 BCE – 400 AD. Scholarly communities and their relation to the temples and other institutions are investigated on the basis of textual, archival and archaeological evidence. The practical applications of astronomy, astrology, geography and medicine and the mutual relations between these scholarly disciplines are explored.

  • (D-1-5) Transformation and diffusion of science

    In this project the transformation and diffusion of ancient science was investigated with a focus on two key periods of change: a formative period, 400330 BC, during which mathematical astronomy developed in Babylonia; a subsequent expansive period, 330 BCE–500 AD, during which there was a marked increase in the exchange of scientific knowledge and practices between Babylonia and its neighbouring cultures in the eastern Mediterranean region.

  • (D-1-6) Mathematical geography

    Based on the data given in Claudius Ptolemy’s Geography (2nd century CE), which contains information on more than 6,000 localities distributed over the then known world, the project investigated the genesis and transformation of geographical information in Antiquity. The aim was to gain insight into the methods used by ancient scientific geographers to systematize individual space data.

  • (PLUS-1) The Astral Sciences - from Tradition to Innovation

    This project investigated how new knowledge emerges from the originally separate traditions of astronomy, astrology and mathematics in a transformation and innovation process. The investigations are based on the research results obtained in research group (D-1) Space of Nature.