The guiding question of the Excellence Cluster is the interaction between space and knowledge in the formation and transformation of ancient societies. We see these two categories as fundamental to both anthropological and socio-historical conceptions of the ancient world. We dissect and analyze space in all its tinctures, collocations, and imbrications, from the physical and cosmological dimensions of the natural world, the representation of its form and its distribution as a soul in the human body, to the virtual spaces implicit in the rhetorical structure of a formal argument.
On the basis of their thematic orientations and specific methodological concepts, the various research groups are organized into a number of research areas. These areas (A-D) each represent a specific methodological concept.
Given the methodological diversity and richness of the different research areas, there is an enormous potential for mutual catalyzation and networking in Topoi II. There are three graduated types of cross-group interaction: (1) key topics, (2) Topoi Lab, and (3) forums.
Space and Knowledge: From Topoi I to Topoi II
During the first five years of Topoi funding (Topoi I, 2007-2012), spatial systems and varied forms of knowledge have been investigated as factors in the development of ancient cultures. This joint effort involving more than 30 traditional disciplines has succeeded in creating a strong sense of cooperation, and has transcended traditional subject boundaries by adopting cross-disciplinary approaches. In the project’s second phase, the investigation of the crucial role of knowledge for spatial understanding in the ancient world will be intensified, reaching from the historical evolution of developing societies to the creation and diffusion of knowledge and early technology.