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Early Career Researchers and Professorships

New research fields and Professorships

The broad spectrum of expertise within ancient studies and related disciplines available in Berlin is unrivaled in Germany and has almost no parallel worldwide. It enabled the Cluster to investigate the concepts of space and knowledge in ancient societies and civilizations in a broad, comparative approach. As part of a strategy to further strengthen this expertise, Topoi created a significant number of new fields and professorships that are now funded by the universities.

New chairs in historical geography (Klaus Geus), the history of knowledge (Markham J. Geller) and Eurasian archaeology (Elke Kaiser) have been established with support of the Cluster at the FU Berlin. A Topoi-funded joint FU and BBAW professorship (Akademieprofessur) in Egyptology has been filled with a renowned expert in Coptology (Tonio S. Richter) – creating a new and highly important research focus on the late Egyptian period. At the HU Berlin, Topoi established new chairs in the history of science (Gerd Graßhoff) and the theory and history of multimodal communication (Silvia Kutscher) – the latter being the first position of this kind, in which the modern concepts of cognitive linguistics are applied to languages of the ancient world. With the appointment of Iris Därmann, Topoi has acquired a renowned expert in cultural studies for the HU Berlin. All these positions will have a lasting effect on the research foci at both universities.

Among the junior professorships funded by Topoi were positions in classical philology (FU Berlin, Jan Stenger), late classical philosophy and literature (HU Berlin, Christoph Helmig) and philosophy (HU Berlin, Jonathan Beere). Beere’s position was changed to a full permanent professorship in 2011.

Early Career Researchers

Topoi strongly supported young researchers at all stages of their careers: from the Master’s level to graduate studies and post-doctoral studies.

BA and MA students benefited not only from the cooperation between the universities and various partner institutions, but also from the fact that findings from toplevel interdisciplinary research were integrated into university teaching. Topoi was regularly offering between 50 and 80 positions for student researchers (studentische Hilfskräfte), introducing students to many aspects of research, from fieldwork to international exchange, knowledge transfer and editorial work. The Cluster also offered BA/MA seminars in the field of science communication.

For its more than 180 PhD students, Topoi in 2011 introduced a structured graduate education. The Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (BerGSAS) of the Berliner Antike-Kolleg was originally initiated by Topoi and served as a graduate school for the Cluster. BerGSAS is supported by all Topoi partner institutions and a total of four faculties from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and three departments from the Freie Universität Berlin. All PhD students conducted their research as members of one of the Cluster research groups. At the same time, they were inscribed in one of a current total of five doctoral study programs of BerGSAS. These cover all relevant disciplines of ancient studies and each is supported by at least one of the non-university partner institutions:

  • Ancient Languages and Texts (ALT, partner: BBAW)
  • Ancient Objects and Visual Studies (AOViS, partner: SPK)
  • Ancient Philosophy/History of Ancient Science (APhil/HistAS, partner: MPIWG)
  • Landscape Archaeology and Architecture (LAA, partner: DAI)
  • Languages and Cultures of the Silk Road (Silk Road, partners: BBAW and DAI)

International networking is an essential element of all doctoral programs. Exchange of junior scholars was organized through agreements on the exchange of doctoral students with Topoi’s international partners and the exchange agreements that BerGSAS has set up with Harvard University, Oxford University, Princeton University, and the University of Michigan. The agreements enable doctoral students to spend a guest semester abroad, with tuition fees waived. In addition, courses taken abroad can be recognized for the BerGSAS curriculum.

All Cluster-funded graduate students were encouraged to present their research at international conferences and to organize sessions at those conferences. Between 2008 and 2018, Topoi junior scholars participated more than 400 times in conferences abroad, with their travel costs funded by the Cluster. PhD students organized more than 15 workshops and conferences in Berlin.

For young researchers at post-doctoral level, Topoi offered more than 160 positions in one of the research groups, ranging from two-years postdoctoral scholarships for shorter projects to long-term (four to eight years) positions in larger research fields of the Cluster, especially those that focused on the edition of texts and other source material, the lead positions in junior research groups and the Topoi Lab and Keytopic positions.

Topoi was a partner of the COFUND/POINT program of Freie Universität, funded by the Marie Curie program of the European Commission, and of the Dahlem Postdoc Fellowship program of FU. Twenty international researchers from various fields of ancient studies joined the Cluster so far.