Materiale Textkulturen

Materialität und Präsenz des Geschriebenen im Herrschaftsdiskurs des antiken Mesopotamien zwischen 2500 und 1800 v. Chr.


Manifestation of rulership in the archaeological record from 3rd millennium southern Mesopotamia


Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter der 1. & 2. Förderperiode

akademische Mitarbeiterin Dr. Christina Tsouparopoulou
Teilprojektleiter Prof. Dr. Peter A. Miglus





The aim of this project is to look at the role the inscribed object played in the legitimization of power, of the king (sacred versus secular power) and of individuals in Mesopotamia over 700 years, from 2500 to 1800 BCE.


This project focuses on how gods, rulers and individuals were empowered through inscribed votive objects, foundation deposits, building inscriptions, seals, stele and boulders, by looking mainly at the materiality of these objects. One major focus will be the topos where gods, people and kings overlapped in relation to the divine, the temple. For example, the king as the builder of the temple put foundation deposits and building inscriptions on the actual structure of the temple, whereas the people votive offerings on the already built temple. The objects that will be the focus of this project are:

  • Votive offerings: statues, plaques, cylinder seals, mace-heads, vessels, pebbles, pendants, beads,
  • Building deposits: clay cones, door sockets, bricks, nails,
  • Foundation deposits: stone tablets, figurines, beads, wooden fragments, inscribed bricks.
  • Collection of inscribed and uninscribed objects, preferably excavated and contextualized artifacts from Southern Mesopotamia: Adab, Lagash, Ur, Nippur, Uruk, Isin, Kish.
  • Study their material, manufacture technique, use, and localization.
  • Verbal imagery versus visual language: Whether and why there was a discrepancy between text and image (as in some stelae), if text served to legitimize the power of the ruler from the divine, while the image appealed to the legitimization of the ruler’s power from the people.
  • The visible versus the invisible realm in the legitimization of power, for example the foundation deposits that carried a royal message were hidden beneath the foundations of temples.
  • The material and value of the objects, issues of exotica and the corresponding aesthetics.
  • Gender issues: material, phrasing, choice of objects.
  • Agency: the role of the craftsman/worker in the execution of artifacts dedicated from kings to gods.
  • Literacy versus orality: reading out aloud/reciting the royal text-message before an audience, verbal means of communicating the written word.
  • Inscribed versus uninscribed: differences/similarities between similar objects inscribed and non-inscribed. The role of textuality and materiality


Teilprojekte der 3. Förderperiode

A01 A02 A03 A05 A06 A08 A09 A10 A11 A12 B01 B04 B09 B10 B13 B14 B15 C05 C07 C08 C09 C10 INF Ö2 Z



abgeschlossene Teilprojekte

A01 A03 A04 B02 B03 B06 B07 B11 B12 C01 C02 C03 C04 C06 IGK Ö1



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