Since 2003, Dominik Bonatz has served as a professor at the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies of the Freie Universität Berlin. His academic career started early with doctoral research on Iron Age funerary monuments in the Syrian-Anatolian region. This research laid the foundations for his key interest in the study of ancient Near Eastern visual arts with a focus on the anthropology, performance and perception of images. As a Principle Investigator in Topoi he puts a new emphasis on this interest by investigating the modes of representing and ordering space, including social space, in the pictorial systems of ancient Near Eastern civilizations. While thus remaining active as an ‘art historian’ in his field Dominik Bonatz also heads two excavation projects, one in North Syria since 2005, the other on Sumatra in Indonesia since 2002. The results of the excavation in Syria contribute to an understanding of the territorial expansion of the Middle Assyrian Empire in the late second millennium BC. Taking a generalizing archaeological perspective from this project Dominik Bonatz inquires in another research area of Topoi into the material components which became the means of creating and structuring political space.
Research Group B-II-1 explores various factors relating to the implementation and organization of political spaces. The research focuses on places in the Near East (Upper Mesopotamia) and, by way of comparison and contrast, on locations in the Roman province of Judaea. The category of space is examined here from two points of view: first, research is conducted into the ways in which political power and control manifest themselves spatially (contiguous, disparate and isolated, or reticulate) and second, how the physical constitution of the land being ruled influences the structure and mechanisms of political power.