Material Text Cultures

The Materialisation of Intellectual Order. Means of Depicting Learned Knowledge on Clay Tablets


current staff members

Teilprojektleiter Prof. Dr. Stefan M. Maul
akademischer Mitarbeiter Adrian Heinrich
akademische Mitarbeiterin Emel Demirdizen (ehemals Keskin)

former staff members

akademische Mitarbeiterin Dr. Lisa Wilhelmi





  • The nature and development of textual representation is to be studied using select categories from the field of Mesopotamian scholarship.
  • The main thrust of the initial project phase consists in subjecting exemplary divinatory and bilingual text categories to diachonic scrutiny.
  • The focus on the “materiality of the script-bearer” is intended to open a completely new angle on cuneiform texts and their users.


This research project sets foot on virgin soil:

  • The project will examine how new forms of text formatting came into being and further developed upon the emergence of extensive cuneiform series in which scholarly knowledge was systematically recorded during the second and early first centuries B.C.
  • The origins and development of tablet layouts and methods specifically for structuring and highlighting text in the medium, as well as the relation between text and text illustration, are central to this research project.
  • Not only will the project  study in what ways scholarly knowledge dictated the manner in which it was depicted. It will also investigate to what extent the materiality and presence of the written matter shaped by the means of representation influenced how scholarly knowledge was handled - and indeed the knowledge itself.


The form and development of textual representation is to be studied using select categories from Mesopotamian scholarship. The objects of study are:

  • Medium-specific tablet layouts, their origins and developments
  • Medium-specific methods for structuring and highlighting text, together with their origins and developments
  • Medium-specific tablet formats, together with their origins and developments
  • Medium- or task-specific use of other script bearers (other clay objects apart from clay tablets; wax-coated wooden tablets; leather; papyrus; stone)
  • Medium-specific means for illustrating texts.


Subprojects of the 3rd Funding Period

A01 A02 A03 A05 A06 A08 A09 A10 A11 A12 B01 B04 B09 B10 B13 B14 B15 C05 C07 C08 C09 C10 INF Ö2 Z



Completed Subprojects

A01 A03 A04 B02 B03 B06 B07 B11 B12 C01 C02 C03 C04 C06 IGK Ö1



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