Cluster of Excellence Topoi

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The Cluster of Excellence 264 - Topoi (The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations) is an interdisciplinary research network that emerged successfully in October 2007 from the second round of the federal and state government's excellence initiative .

The first funding period began on November 1, 2007 and ended on October 31, 2012. In June 2012, the application for further funding was approved by the Excellence Initiative Grants Committee. The second funding period runs for another five years and ends on October 31, 2017. Scientists from the disciplines of archeology , geography , cultural studies , art history , linguistics , philology , philosophy , theology and the history of science work in the research cluster . The Topoi Cluster of Excellence is located equally at the Free University of Berlin and the Humboldt University of Berlin . The cluster's speakers are Michael Meyer (Professor of Prehistory, Free University Berlin) for the Free University and Gerd Graßhoff (Professor for the History of Science, Humboldt University Berlin) for the Humboldt University .

Institutions involved

The Technical University of Berlin and the Berlin University of Technology and Economics (HTW) are partner universities in the cluster . In addition, there are collaborations with non-university institutions such as the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (BBAW).


The aim of the Cluster of Excellence is to establish the multifaceted relationships between space and knowledge in the civilizations of the Middle East , the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region from the sixth millennium BC. To about 500 AD to explore. The intention is to examine spaces, spatial systems and various forms of knowledge as interrelated factors in the development of cultural systems of antiquity .

In the context of Topoi, basic research is carried out in paradigmatic model studies on small-scale structures up to large-scale empires, but also on differently defined and constituted spaces. The focus here is on the question of whether and in what way the changes in geographical, political, economic, cultural, linguistic and sociological areas are related to the transformations of knowledge and the development of the various sciences. Building on the basic research, work should be carried out in an interdisciplinary framework on a theory of space as a constituent element in the formation and transformation of cultures and societies in antiquity.

Research areas

The Topoi Cluster of Excellence is subdivided into several Research Areas , which in turn are subdivided into various Research Groups .

Topoi I (2008–2012)

In its first funding phase, Topoi was divided into five research areas:

  • Area A: Spatial Environment and Conceptual Design
  • Area B: Mechanisms of Control and Social Spaces
  • Area C: Perception and Representation
  • Area D: Theory and Science
  • Area E: The Processing of Space

Some of the research areas were networked directly, through the central area E or through the so-called cross sectional groups .

Research questions and results from the various areas were presented to the public in a large final exhibition Beyond the Horizon .

Topoi II (2013-2017)

In its second funding phase, Topoi is now divided into four Research Areas, with three of the area names remaining unchanged:

  • Area A: Spatial Environment and Conceptual Design
  • Area B: Constructing Historical Space (changed)
  • Area C: Perception and Representation
  • Area D: Theory and Science

The research is now networked through six key topics : Economy , Identities , Innovation , Mapping , Transformation and Water Management .

Beyond the funding period, the work of the researchers is to be continued with the participation of the partner institutions in a Berlin Antike College , which was opened in May 2011.

Web links

Individual evidence

  4. Research in Topoi I .
  5. Beyond the Horizon. Space and knowledge in the cultures of the Old World : An exhibition by the Topoi Cluster of Excellence in cooperation with the National Museums in Berlin / Museum Island Berlin / Pergamon Museum / Fri June 22nd - Sun September 30th 2012.
  6. ^ Research (in Topoi II) .