A new way of understanding premodern societies
The proposed Cluster of Excellence Topoi. Stability and Instability in Ancient Societies will explore the driving forces in the development of human societies from the beginning of sedentary life twelve thousand years ago to the end of late antiquity. The Cluster’s fundamental focus on stability and instability will lead to a new way of understanding early civilizations. Moreover, due to the great variety in its forms of society, antiquity is particularly well suited to understand the complex structure between stable and instable states in the longue durée.
The proposed Cluster can build on ten years of experience in interdisciplinary and cross-institutional work within the Excellence Cluster Topoi. The Formation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations. The intensive investigation of space and knowledge as categories for understanding ancient phenomena, which was the focus of the Cluster from 2007 to 2017, was a major prerequisite for developing the new research program.
Berlin is a hub for ancient studies of global prominence, where thanks to Topoi a whole new quality of cooperation has developed. The work of the new Cluster Topoi. Stability and Instability in Ancient Societies will also be carried out by researchers from the two applicant universities as well as non-university research institutions and museums representing more than 30 academic disciplines, most of them pertaining to ancient studies. Due to the great variability in concepts of stability in different disciplines, the Cluster will integrate researchers and partners from the natural and social sciences into its work in a novel way.
Topoi. Stability and Instability in Ancient Civilizations is being proposed jointly by Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in cooperation with the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science and Humanities, the German Archaeological Institute, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz.
The permanent research platform Berliner Antike-Kolleg, which was founded by all the Topoi partners, will make its resources fully available to the Cluster: the Berlin-based Graduate School of Ancient Studies, the Research Center for Ancient Studies, and the Repositories, Editions, Materials forum, an ideal framework for large-scale, interdisciplinary, and ambitious collaborative research.