Research Field B
Inscriptions are omnipresent. They shape landscapes and cityscapes as well as interior spaces and include diverse artefacts ranging from calligraphic boards and inscribed vases to graffiti and advertisements to tombstones and monumental rock inscriptions. As written artefacts, they are produced to carry a message, with an adorning, defining, explaining, dedicating, or a structuring purpose. They consist of inorganic or organic materials such as metals, stones, ceramics, ivory, wood, and others. Whether advertising a bar, adorning a private study or publishing a law, they are statements in space and structure space at the same time. Inscriptions reveal close relations to other written artefacts, as many, for example, were first drafted by hand; in East Asia, even cursive writing or pictorial elements were faithfully copied on stone or wood.
The Research Field ‘Inscribing Spaces’ studies inscriptions together with manuscripts – as written artefacts in their respective distribution of content and function that may vary according to region, time and practices. The enquiry concentrates on the one hand on materiality, which forms one of the starting points when determining the qualities of a written artefact. The categories of durability, concerning the material on which visual signs are applied, and inscribability, which regards the technique of applying visual signs to different materials, are central to this aspect. On the other hand, among the perspectives for the study of written artefacts, space is of utmost importance for inscriptions. Inscriptions are three-dimensional objects that can be placed in the open or secluded in private spaces. Thus, accessibility, focusing on the placement of the artefact, is relevant for the degree of restrictedness (‘public’ vs ‘private’) and its readability. Last but not least, the visual organisation needs to be taken into account as well, analysing the connections and parallels to manuscripts. Often the inscription forms only a small part of a larger natural or man-made object, thus its relation to the surroundings is central for its interpretation.
Spokesperson: Leah Mascia
The Long Journey to the Underworld: Interchangeability and Interaction between Languages, Scripts, and Materials as a Reflex of the Interplay Between Functional and Ritual Practices in the Production of Funerary Artefacts in Roman and Late Antique Egypt