Antiquity research in Berlin: where writing and astronomy were born – Wikipedia

“A doctor who knows nothing of astrology is an ignorant.” Guenther M. Ziegler, rector of the Free University of Berlin (FU), quoted this sentence from the Greek physician and teacher Hippocrates in Kos on Friday at the opening of the new Institute for the History of Knowledge of Antiquity.

It is headed by c. Cal Johnson, who took up the professorship in the first epidemiological year, 2020, is familiar with the federation through numerous residencies, for example in the former Topboy Group of Excellence on Transforming Spaces and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations. Johnson is an Assyrian anthropologist and linguist, whose research includes the origin of writing, Sumerian literature, and Babylonian medicine.

Johnson promised at the opening ceremony at “Holzlaube” that his institute should become “a link and a pool of thought between archeology and classical studies, between the humanities and the natural sciences”. Eun-Jeung Lee, dean of the Department of History and Cultural Studies at FU, hopes that the institute will encourage collaboration on minor subjects—stretching throughout the period covered there.

c. Cal Johnson, Director of the FU Institute for the History of Ancient Knowledge.Photo: Burchard/TSP

Going back to Hippocrates: Anyone who believes in horoscopes today is ridiculed in academia, Ziegler pointed out. However, thanks to the new establishment, it is likely that Dahlem astrology will play a larger role than ever before.

Because in astrology, which has its origins in the Babylonian Empire and has been passed down and transformed through Egypt and the Greco-Roman world to the present day, astronomical, astrological, mathematical, religious and social practices are closely related.

On the path of the origin of the zodiac

At the new institute, located in a villa on Arnimallee 10, these practices are being investigated in the “Zodiac – Ancient Astral Science in Transformation” research project. It started in April 2021 under the direction of Matthew Ossendrijver. He began his career as an astrophysicist and came to Berlin in 2013 as Professor of History of Science at Humboldt University.

He brings an advanced European Research Council (ERC) grant of €2.5 million with him to FU, which will fund Zodiac and its international and multidisciplinary team for a period of five years. The starting point is textual and iconographic sources about the horoscopes.

Mathieu Ossendrijver, Head of the Zodiac Research Project at the FU Institute for the History of Knowledge of Antiquity.Photo: Burchard / TSP

At a new institute with such a strong focus, said F.U. President Ziegler, the search “for where the origin of knowledge lies, which is needed and often enough abused,” was “powerful, unique, and important” for the Free University. Keynote speaker Darren Lehawkes, Professor of Classics, History and Philosophy of Science at Queen’s University, Canada, added: “I am very jealous of what has been done here in Berlin – we don’t have anything like it anywhere else.”

[Wenn Sie alle aktuellen Nachrichten live auf Ihr Handy haben wollen, empfehlen wir Ihnen unsere App, die Sie hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen können.]

This undoubtedly includes the entire landscape of Berlin’s antiquity, which includes the German Archaeological Institute, Research on Antiquity at the Berlin Academy, the Einstein Kronoy Center, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Knowledge and the Museums of Old Berlin.

Starting in the summer semester of 2023, masters students of the planned FU course in the “History of Knowledge” will also tour this landscape. And maybe one day Darren Liehue, too – as a visiting professor?

In any case, his talk on “cognitive distortions in ancient Rome” could have been an applied lecture. Show how people fought for good scientific practice even in ancient times. Galen, the great physician and philosopher, saw his writings in abridged versions of other authors so “distorted” that he preferred to publish summaries of his originals himself.

Leave a Comment