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. Our main research interest focusses on the specific materiality, the evoked presence of the inscribed artefacts and the written texts themselves. 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? The CRC's 933 main idea is that writing, script-bearing artefacts and related practices are bound by an irrevocable mutual connection, which has a huge explanatory power for the understanding of the transmitted texts and their cultural surroundings.
The CRC 933 chooses its examination objects exclusively from cultures to which means of mass production for written texts were unknown or unavailable. This includes for example ancient Egyptian execration figurines, clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform writing from Mesopotamia or graphic characters found on medieval buildings. Because of the spacial and temporal distance to these objects, it is impossible to read and understand them straight away. Only after having examined the artefacts' materiality, presence, topology, praxeology, one can situate them into their cultural contexts.
These script-bearing artefacts are not understood as silent objects. The CRC 933 considers them to a certain extent as actors. They originate in a culture giving them a certain framework of action through which – in turn – they act upon the people dealing with them. In this respect, useful insights can be gained by looking at how scripturality and written text were reflected in contemporary literature. Because of the fact that script-bearing artefacts are strongly embedded into their sociocultural contexts, social change and the related medial change also come into view.
In the long run, the CRC 933 plans to establish a theoretically well-founded, methodologically diverse and interdisciplinary Text Studies of Ancient Societies. We want the CRC 933 to be a humanistic laboratory which enables us to creatively combine premises, epistemological interests, subject areas and methods that normally operate separately from one another. By doing so, we want to generate new fields of research, enhanced analytical methods and significant new knowledge.
One of the CRC's central goals is to gather and make available convincing data (subproject "Information Infrastructure"). For us it is of upmost importance to systematically reflect the future manner of use and to influence future research. Systematically diffusing the CRC's research results to a broad public is a main objective which is planned and carried out by the subproject "Public Relation".
The CRC has been funded since 2011 by the German Research Foundation. Around 70 scientists coming from 18 different humanistic disciplines at Heidelberg University and at Heidelberg College for Jewish Studies participate in the CRC's activities. In May 2015 the German Research Foundation granted a second funding period until 2019.