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Cluster of Excellence of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin Topoi

The formation and transformation of space and knowledge in ancient civilisations

The Cluster of Excellence "Topoi" pursues the goal of researching the interdependence of space and knowledge in the civilizations of the Ancient Near East, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea region and parts of the Eurasian steppe from the 6th millennium BC to around AD 500. This is to serve the more fundamental purpose of investigating the spaces, spatial systems, and various types of space-related knowledge as intertwined factors in the development of ancient cultural systems. Paradigmatic studies are to investigate the foundations of small-scale structures up to large-scale expansive empires and variously defined and constituted spaces as well. Building on this fundamental research, Topoi will work out a theory of space as a constitutive element in the formation and transformation of cultures and societies of antiquity within an interdisciplinary framework.

The spectrum of participating academic fields ranges from archaeology and history to philology and philosophy and thus not only revives the kind of interdisciplinary research typical of the heyday of German ancient studies in the 19th and early 20th centuries that was gradually lost with the increasing specialization of the various disciplines, but integrates entirely new disciplines into the research of ancient cultures. This combination of various disciplines is meant to provide a new orientation for the research into ancient cultures, in which Germany in general and Berlin in particular traditionally played a leading role, and also to give this research greater contemporary relevance for the questions of our present day.

Prof. Dr. Sybille Krämer of the Institut für Philosophie is a member of "Topoi" as a Principal Investigator.