K. Sieckmeyer © Uruk-Warka-Sammlung, DAI Orient-Abteilung
Collaborative Research Cluster
Material Text Cultures


Challenging traditional ideas - an interview with Babett Edelmann-Singer

"That sounds odd" - when Babett Edelmann-Singer stumbles across something that doesn't seem convincing to her, her curiosity springs into action. Then she tries to clear the fog that has settled over antiquity in the course of the millennia. In doing so, she approaches the pre-Christian reality by investigating objects of that time. For objects are by no means mere symbols of human activity, as she explains. Rather, the artifacts develop their own impact and language through their special relationship to humans and the natural environment, which the Ancient Historian elicits from them through thorough analyses. In the summer semester of 2021, she is researching and teaching as a visiting professor at the Collaborative Research Center 933 "Material Text Cultures". An interview with Babett Edelmann-Singer can be found here (in German).

"No one can resist the effect of typography"

Last year, the Heidelberg Collaborative Research Center 933 "Material Text Cultures" and the "Typo-Passage: Micromuseum for Design of and with Type" from Vienna joined forces for an unusual cooperation: the modern visualization of research aspects with the help of typographic means. The first result in the form of a five-part poster series can now be seen in the Typo-Passage in the MuseumsQuartier Wien / Q21. A report about the project can be found here.

The Mystery of the Past – An Interview with Sebastian Watta

As a 12-year-old, Sebastian Watta visited churches and monasteries on his own initiative. And while others went to sports clubs or choirs in the afternoon, the teenager studied for his Graecum. After completing his university degree in Christian archaeology, art history and theology, the 41-year-old is now researching sacred buildings from late antiquity. Here, he focuses on inscriptions and the question of what effect they had on contemporaries and posterity. Watta has been working at the SFB since the beginning of this year in subproject A01 UP2. An interview with the archaeologist can be found here (in German).

New MTK volume published

Volume 33 "Die Stadt als beschriebener Raum – Die Beispiele Pompeji und Herculaneum" of the SFB's series "Materiale Textkulturen" (Material Text Cultures) deals with inscriptions in the public space of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The author, Fanny Opdenhoff, addresses the question of how inscriptions were embedded in the practices of the time and in the architectural and urban features of the public space in order to make them understandable as time- and space-specific artifacts. All MTK volumes published to date are available in open access on the De Gruyter Verlag website.

Boundaries in pre-modern texts - a workshop report

Visible and invisible textual boundaries were the subject of the interdisciplinary workshop "Boundaries in Pre-modern Texts", to which the SFB in cooperation with the Research Training Group "Document - Text - Edition" of the Bergische Universität Wuppertal had invited in November 2020. The speakers included members of both research networks, who presented their ongoing projects in a virtual roundtable. Further information can be found here (in German).

Transatlantic cooperation on the "Anthologia Palatina"

With 3,765 epigrams on 614 pages, it is the most comprehensive collection of its kind and thus of inestimable value for science: the Anthologia Palatina. Researchers of the SFB 933 "Material Text Cultures" are working on a digital partial edition of the work, which will not only provide transcriptions and translations, but also additional background information such as archaeological findings on the poems. This year, the project underwent a surprising expansion after Canadian scientists from the Université de Montréal became aware of it. Further information can be found here (in German).

Call to the University of Osnabrück - Dr. Stefan Ardeleanu takes over the professorship "Archaeology of the Roman Provinces

Dr. Stefan Ardeleanu has been appointed to the junior professorship "Archaeology of the Roman Provinces" at the Department of History of the University of Osnabrück as of November 1, thus leaving the Collaborative Research Center 933 "Material Text Cultures" after four years. As a scientific assistant in subproject A01 UP2 he had last conducted research on Late Antique grave inscriptions and grave rites in the north-western provinces of the Roman Empire. Further information can be found here (in German).

Thematic Fields

The interdisciplinary work at the CRC 933 is organized in seven thematic fields. They are based on the method of praxeologically oriented analysis of artefacts, which builds upon the examination of materiality, topology, and presence as well as on the reconstruction of praxeographies. The thematic fields stretch across the three research areas: A ‚Social Spaces‘, B ‚Social Fields‘, and C ‚Reflection (Metatexts)‘. The thematic fields are designed to make times and spaces comparable with regard to identifiable areas of social practice (ritual-religious, scientific-epistemic, political-administrative), and they serve further development of the theory and methods of the CRC 933.



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Goals & Central Ideas

The Collaborative Research Centre 933 (CRC 933) examines script-bearing artefacts: pillars, steles, portals, tombstones, potsherds, amulets, scrolls, papyri, parchment codices; to name only a few. The researchers involved investigate a lot of questions: How and under which circumstances were these artefacts produced? In which spacial arrangements were they located? Who had access to them? How and in which contexts were they used? Continue reading


MTK-Series' "Materiale Textkulturen"

The MTK-Series Material Text Cultures is the Collaborative Research Centre's publication organ. We publish collected volumes and monographs that focus on the CRC's main research questions, meaning the materiality and presence of writing in non-typographic societies. All volumes are open access and can be found here.

5300 Jahre Schrift

In 50 articles, the volume "5300 Jahre Schrift" published by das Wunderhorn presents 50 written artifacts, which are as diverse as their origins and their writers and readers – including Mesopotamian tax lists in cuneiform script, Roman temple inscriptions, ancient Egyptian books of the dead or even street art and hypertext. More information

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