In the Topoi Excellence Cluster researchers investigate the systematic connection between space and knowledge structures in the cultures of the Near East and Mediterranean, from early civilizations to late antiquity and the early medieval period.
News from Oct 22, 2014
Since it was set up in November 2007, the excellence cluster entitled Topoi – The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations – has shown the potential for interdisciplinary cooperation in studying the ancient world. Archaeologists and philosophers, philologists and geographers, historians and scientists together examine the relationship between the development of spatial systems and knowledge in antiquity. Its success in the next funding phase of the German Excellence Initiative in 2012 means that the cluster will be able to continue its work through October 2017.
The issues being investigated range from the reconstruction of ancient landscapes through archeology and the Earth sciences to the organization of spaces in a historical perspective, their description in images and texts, and scientific constructions of spaces in ancient philosophy and mathematics. After the first five years of research, an exhibition was curated at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin to present the research approaches and research topics to the public. More than 100,000 visitors viewed the exhibition.
Topoi concentrates the research capacity in classical studies in Berlin. Jointly hosted by Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, this excellence cluster is the result of cooperation among all the research institutions in Berlin that deal with antiquity. There is no other city in Germany where the cultures of the ancient world are as visible as they are in Berlin. The non-university cooperation partners include the German Archaeological Institute, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz with the Berlin State Museums.
A long-term structure for this successful model of interdisciplinary cooperation between the institutions was established in the form of the Berliner Antike-Kolleg, inaugurated in May 2011. The Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies, part of the Berliner Antike-Kolleg, trains junior scholars in interdisciplinary degree programs related to the work of the Topoi cluster.
So far four clusters in which Freie Universität is involved received distinction in the Excellence Initiative: