New approaches to philological research and text edition – fostering junior scholars
The cuneiform texts of the Ancient Near East are the prime source for Assyriology as the study of cultures of the past. Thousands of cuneiform tablets remain in museum storerooms, while even more await a lucky archaeologist’s trowel, buried underground. In order to access this veritable scholarly treasure trove, one needs to be able to do the texts justice: philology means here basic research in every sense of the word.
One cannot learn to the read cuneiform from a book. Practice and experience are of paramount importance. The Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East creates the perfect opportunity for junior scholars to rise to the challenges presented by unpublished cuneiform texts and to learn by trying to decipher, evaluate and document these texts in a practice-oriented setting, and thus to obtain the qualifications necessary to work with novel, unpublished material without supervision. The participants are able to broaden and deepen their knowledge of the discipline, which will have a positive impact on their competitiveness in the international academic job market.
New approaches to humanities
With its didactic concept, the Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East opens new venues to combining research and teaching of humanities in one single unit. The inspiration with the spatial organisation of laboratories in the natural sciences strongly encourages constant scholarly exchange during the entire learning and working process. Questions and problems that arise during the handling of cuneiform objects can be discussed in a collegial setting at any time.
The intensive exchange with professors supervising the Masterclass enables the participants to learn directly from experienced senior researchers and to profit immensely from their expertise. The close individual supervision allows to maximally fulfil individual needs. During one-on-one tutoring sessions with the senior scholars, the participants have the opportunity to reflect on their academic development and plan for their future careers.
The participants prepare their work schedule and design their tasks independently. In this way, they can not only develop their skills as philologists but also gather experience in planning and carrying out of research projects, which will allow them to develop the necessary project management skills.
The three programmes of the Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East
The aim of the Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East is to teach talented junior scholars how to handle unpublished cuneiform texts.
DThe Heidelberger Research Laboratory consists of three programmes, each of which requires a different level of skill and experience, and which enable the gradual acquisition of knowledge necessary for the decipherment and edition of unpublished texts:
- The first level requires becoming proficient in the German language. German has traditionally been one of the leading languages of Assyriology. The courses we offer necessitate the ability to speak and write in German and English at B2 level at a minimum. To students and doctoral candidates whose lower level of German proficiency prevents them from participating in the Masterclass or Research Laboratory, we offer a scholarship for a four-week language course at the Heidelberg University.
- The second level is the Masterclass Cuneiform Epigraphy. During this one-week programme the participants master the basic philological techniques while practicing with original cuneiform tablets and casts. The central focus here is on the decipherment of cuneiform texts and the graphic documentation of epigraphic findings. We expect from the potential candidates an excellent study record and high motivation, but they are not required to have experience with original cuneiform artefacts.
- DThe third level comprises the six-week intensive course, Heidelberg Research Laboratory Ancient Near East, to take place annually. Each year a new corpus will be chosen for the participants – ten international PhD students or postdoctoral researchers who will be responsible for the entire process of preparing tablets for publication – from decipherment, via producing a scholarly transliteration, up to drawing an autography. Weekly seminars provide the framework for the programme, which is to culminate with a collective publication. We encourage advanced MA students to apply as well, although they should have had some practice with texts from the relevant period or genre. Experience with working with original texts is highly recommended.
The programmes can be attended independently, if the candidate has already acquired the necessary qualifications at their own university. Please feel free contact us for any additional information about requirements; we will be delighted to help you.
All the above programmes are to be understood as scholarships. We do not charge any fees. The transport costs will be reimbursed, and accommodation will be provided or at least partially subsidised.