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Babylonian Formulas, Arcane Lore, and the Song of Science

Annual Conference of the Excellence Cluster Topoi on the subject of “Knoweldge,” November 14-15 / Opening of the newly renovated west wing of the Topoi Building in Berlin-Mitte

№ 338/2013 from Nov 04, 2013

“Knowledge” is the main theme of this year’s annual conference organized by the Excellence Cluster Topoi of Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. On November 14 and 15, scholars from the interdisciplinary research association will present results from their ancient studies research projects. Topics range from Babylonian formulas, writs, and omens to arcane lore and expert knowledge to knowledge transfer in antiquity. Author Bas Böttcher, known primarily for his recitations at poetry slams, will provide a “prologue” to the conference with a speech entitled “A Poetic Theory of Knowledge.” Meetings will be held at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in Mitte and Freie Universität Berlin in Dahlem. The program will include the ceremonial opening of the west wing of the Topoi Building in Mitte. This building, which formerly belonged to the Charité Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science, was renovated to house the interdisciplinary organization.

This congress is part of a series of annual conferences aimed at presenting research results from the Excellence Cluster Topoi. Together with “Space,” “Knowledge” is one of the concepts central to the Cluster’s program, a program it has pursued since 2007 with funding from the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German Research Foundation. In 2012, funding was extended for another five years.

Alongside the two universities, Topoi’s partner institutions include the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, the Max Planck Institute für Wissenschaftsgeschichte and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz. The founding of the Berliner Antike-Kolleg in 2011 provided a permanent framework for this internationally recognized interdisciplinary and inter-institutional cooperation in ancient studies research.

Furthermore, for the past two years the Cluster has been home to the Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies, also funded by Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. The school features five doctoral programs aimed at introducing graduate students to cooperative, interdisciplinary, and inter-institutional research in ancient studies. The nine scholarship holders will be introduced during the opening ceremony for the west wing of the Topoi building, where the graduate school is partly housed.

Now that renovation is complete, the Topoi Building in Mitte currently boasts a good 100 workstations. This means that researchers who previously were assigned to various university buildings will now be able to conduct interdisciplinary research side by side. The building at Hannoversche Str. 6 was erected in 1886 for the Charité Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science and served as one of the world’s most innovative centers for research in this field until 2004. The Topoi building has since become a place for interdisciplinary research and exchange in the field of ancient studies.

When and Where

  • November 14, 2013, 9:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, conference hall (Senatsaal), Unter den Linden 6, 10117 Berlin (S-Bahn station: Friedrichstraße / bus stop: Staatsoper)
  • 5:30 p.m.: reception at the Topoi Building in Mitte, Hannoversche Straße 6, 10115 Berlin
  • November 15, 2013, 9:00 a.m. – ca. 5:00 p.m.: Freie Universität Berlin, Henry Ford Building, Conference Room A (theatre hall), Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin; subway station: Thielplatz (U3)


Further Information

Dr. Nina Diezemann, Office of News and Public Affairs, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-73190, Email: