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30 Jun 2017—01 Jul 2017

Berlin - Sudan. The history of Berlin-based research on Northeast Africa Change, continuity and scientific ‘Zeitgeist’ from the Kingdom of Prussia until the end of the GDR

Beginning with the Royal Prussian Expedition to Egypt and Ethiopia in the years 1842 to 1845 under Carl Richard Lepsius (1810–1884), research on the archaeology and languages of Northeast Africa has been significantly furthered by Berlin-based institutions and scholars.

This is illustrated, for example, by the impressive collections of the Neues Museum and by the Egyptian Dictionary project at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW). Berlin-based research has not only focused on Egypt, however, but also fostered a vivid interest in the regions and cultures to the South of the First Nile Cataract.

More than 100 years after Lepsius, his Egyptological heir Fritz Hintze (1915–1993) continued this tradition under the conditions of GDR academia. With Humboldt-Universität’s Butana Expedition (1958) Hintze started archaeological work in the young Republic of the Sudan, which he continued through the 1960s with excavations at Musawwarat es-Sufra. He also headed the Epigraphic Expedition to Sudanese Nubia (1961–1963) for the Academy of Sciences and Humanities of the GDR. The focus on research on ancient Sudan at Humboldt-Universität resulted in the creation of a professorship for Sudan Archaeology in 1984. Meanwhile, starting in the 1960s, the architect Friedrich W. Hinkel (1925–2007) worked closely with the Sudanese Antiquities Service in preserving and presenting Sudan’s built heritage, especially in Nubia and at Meroe, and in registering its archaeological sites.

Today, various institutional archives at Humboldt-Universität, the BBAW, the German Archaeological Institute and elsewhere, some of which have only recently started to become accessible, document the work of the Prussian and GDR-researchers in Sudan between political and scientific ideals and realities. The Berlin-based research tradition in Sudan and the changes of scientific ‘Zeitgeist’, due to the upheavals of German and international history until the end of the GDR, are the subject of the conference.


Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Unter den Linden 6 (lecture hall 2091/92)
10117 Berlin

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Bereich Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte Nordostafrikas (AKNOA)
am Institut für Archäologie der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
(Dr. Cornelia Kleinitz, Dr. Thomas Gertzen, Prof. Dr. Alexandra Verbovsek, Prof. Dr. Frank Kammerzell)

For registration please contact: Karin Lippold (