K. Sieckmeyer © Uruk-Warka-Sammlung, DAI Orient-Abteilung
Collaborative Research Cluster
Material Text Cultures


To make objects speak – Inscriptions as both things and texts

After the Bronze Age collapse of circa 1200 BCE, Greeks forgot how to write. Linear B texts – syllabic script used for writing in Mycenaean Greek – disappeared. Greeks did not learn how to write again until perhaps the eighth century BCE, when, at various places in the Greek world, semitic letters were adopted and adapted to Greek language. The rest, as they say, is history: the Greeks developed or expanded many of the writing genres that are still with us today, from tragedies and comedies to history writing to philosophy. But we do not have evidence for these genres until a couple centuries after writing re-emerged in Greece. So why were these early Greek writing systems initially developed? What did Greeks get from writing? These questions were addressed in a lecture given by Professor James Whitley of Cardiff University in Heidelberg on January 18. Please read the full article by Anna Sitz here.

Tattoo photo competition - winners have been selected

 Die The winners of the university-wide photo competition "Your own tattoo as an exhibition object" have been determined. In October, the subproject Ö „Schrifttragende Artefakte in Neuen Medien“ of the CRC 933 had been looking for members of the university with a tattoo that consists of or contains characters. They were invited to submit a photo of their tattoo. Photos and background information on the winning tattoos can be viewed here on the CRC-Blog (in German).

Image, Text, Stone – CRC publishes 36th volume in MTK-series

The intermediality of image and text in Greco-Roman sculpture is the subject of a new volume published in the CRC's "Material Text Cultures" series. Editors of the English-language anthology, titled "Image, Text, Stone – Intermedial Perspectives on Graeco-Roman Sculpture," are Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Dietrich and Dr. Johannes Fouquet, who conduct research in subproject A10 "Text and Image in Greek Sculpture". Their work bridges the traditional gap between archaeologists, epigraphists, and philologists, who have long studied statues, material inscriptions, and literary epigrams within the closely confined borders of their individual disciplines.


The second volume of the KEMTE-Series (Kulturelles Erbe: Materialität – Text – Edition / Cultural Heritage: Materiality – Text – Edition) has been published by Heidelberg University Publishing. Edited by Christian Schneider (University of Osnabrück), Peter Schmidt (University of Hamburg), Jakub Šimek (Heidelberg University Library), and Lisa Horstmann (Darmstadt University of Technology), it is entitled „Der ‚Welsche Gast‘ des Thomasin von Zerklaere: Neue Perspektiven auf eine alte Verhaltenslehre in Text und Bild“ ("The 'Welsche Gast' of Thomasin von Zerklaere: New Perspectives on an Ancient Theory of Behavior in Text and Image"). From 2011 to 2019, the editors managed and edited the project Welscher Gast digital as part of subproject B06 at the SFB. This volume brings together studies from art, literature, and musicology on the sources, didactic conception, pictorial transmission, and reception of Thomasin's work. The volume is available  here.

Filling Blind Spots - An Interview with Valerie Garver

It was a proseminar on the Middle Ages that tipped the scales. Fascinated by the stories about the "dark epoch," the young student asked her professor, "What do I have to do to enter your profession?" "First, learn Latin," was the answer. "Then you can come back." Today, Valerie Garver researches and teaches at Northern Illinois University on the early medieval period, focusing particularly on issues related to the history of women, gender, childhood, and family, as well as historical and interdisciplinary studies of material culture. In the winter semester 2021/2022, she spent several months as a visiting scholar at the CRC "Material Text Cultures". Please find the interview with Valerie Garver here (in German).

The Materiality of Rulership and Administration

At the end of March, subprojects B09 (Bamboo and Wood as Writing Materials in Early China) and B10 (Rolls for the King) welcomed researchers – albeit virtually – to a two-day workshop: Keeping Record: The Materiality of Rulership and Administration in the Pre-Modern World (24–25 March 2022). Please click here for the workshop report by Abby Armstrong.

Thematic Fields

The interdisciplinary work at the CRC 933 is organized in seven thematic fields. They are based on the method of praxeologically oriented analysis of artefacts, which builds upon the examination of materiality, topology, and presence as well as on the reconstruction of praxeographies. The thematic fields stretch across the three research areas: A ‚Social Spaces‘, B ‚Social Fields‘, and C ‚Reflection (Metatexts)‘. The thematic fields are designed to make times and spaces comparable with regard to identifiable areas of social practice (ritual-religious, scientific-epistemic, political-administrative), and they serve further development of the theory and methods of the CRC 933.



Dates of MTC

all Dates are available in the calendar

Social Media

Follow us on our blog

Follow us on twitter

Goals & Central Ideas

The Collaborative Research Centre 933 (CRC 933) examines script-bearing artefacts: pillars, steles, portals, tombstones, potsherds, amulets, scrolls, papyri, parchment codices; to name only a few. The researchers involved investigate a lot of questions: How and under which circumstances were these artefacts produced? In which spacial arrangements were they located? Who had access to them? How and in which contexts were they used? Continue reading


MTK-Series' "Materiale Textkulturen"

The MTK-Series Material Text Cultures is the Collaborative Research Centre's publication organ. We publish collected volumes and monographs that focus on the CRC's main research questions, meaning the materiality and presence of writing in non-typographic societies. All volumes are open access and can be found here.

5300 Jahre Schrift

In 50 articles, the volume "5300 Jahre Schrift" published by das Wunderhorn presents 50 written artifacts, which are as diverse as their origins and their writers and readers – including Mesopotamian tax lists in cuneiform script, Roman temple inscriptions, ancient Egyptian books of the dead or even street art and hypertext. More information

Arbeitsplatz Wissenschaft