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The Wissensarchive Project will focus on the production, transmission and preservation of knowledge in a series of premodern societies, especially the contextualization of knowledge and knowledge claims. Our use of the term Wissenarchive encompasses archives along a cline of media and materiality, from collections of archaeological objects that have been shaped by a specific knowledge tradition, to corpora of textual remains, real or imagined, that represent a movement of intellectual history.

Where two or three signs are gathered together, we can always "project" a context that might "fit" these signs, as linguistic anthropologists have frequently argued, but if these projected contexts are not rooted in a broader historical or archaeological record, then they really must be deemed fictive. It is the possibility of rooting these Wissensarchive within established linguistic, historical, archaeological or museological traditions that makes them into Wissensarchive. Crucially, the objects of a given Wissensarchiv may themselves be lost (the Buddhas of Bamiyan destroyed by the Taliban in 2001), barely remembered (antediluvian tablets buried in Sippar and recovered after the flood in Berossus’ account) or unreal (the false decretals of Pseudo-Isidore), but the defining property is a claim that a group of objects represent an integral unit and, as such, were able to achieve a specific set of social goals or marshal concrete forms of authority.

The Wissensarchive Project welcomes ideas and participation from all sides of the Berlin academic landscape. The meeting on the 24th is meant as an open forum for the discussion of new directions in collaborative research in Berlin. Please register by March 22: sekretariat@berliner-antike-kolleg.org.