Visualization and material cultures of the heavens: image database Eurasia and North Africa (4000 BCE - 1700 CE)

Visualization and material cultures of the heavens: image database Eurasia and North Africa (4000 BCE - 1700 CE)

This image-database invites research on multiple forms and formats of visualizing the heavens from deities to demons and from stars to weather phenomena. It is designed to facilitate comparative research on processes of knowledge formation and exchange on the heavens in Eurasia and North Africa. The collection includes calendars, star constellations, planets and other heavenly inhabitants or phenomena in anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, diagrammatic or semiotic formats, as well as theoretical models and a broad range of tables. One focus is the emergence, transformation, dissemination and re-interpretation of the zodiac and its contexts in the form of texts, maps, and imagery on various artefacts. We invite research on the materiality of the heavens in different cultures as well as the alleged contexts from which these historical artefacts were created, that is, their “Sitz im Leben”.

Questions of interest are:

1.    What pictorial types were developed in different areas of Eurasia in antiquity?

2.    Which components of these pictorial types continued into new cultural and/or geographical contexts?

3.    What were the itineraries and conditions of travel?

4.    Who served as mediators, distributors or translators?

5.    What is known about their educational, religious, political, linguistic or artistic contexts?

6.    How did the pictorial types change with movements across space, time and cultures?

7.    How can we interpret these changes and what do they tell us about cross-cultural exchanges of knowledge?

8.    What is the relation between text and visual and material representation?

 

Please contact brentjes@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de, if you are interested in sharing material with us or would like access to our collections.