skip to content

Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Research 2018/2019


Scholarly excellence is multifaceted. It manifests itself not only within the framework of large collaborative projects but also in highly individual research endeavours. Both types of projects require a university that has sound prospects to remain a University of Excellence. Above all, the different and many research projects presented in this brochure require a faculty as large as the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cologne.
The spectrum of the projects made possible by major third party funding institutions is remarkable; in addition to funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG), it is crucial to highlight the funding provided within the framework of the German Academies‘ long-term Programme which takes into account that larger projects in the Humanities take time.
This is the fourth time now that our brochure, which provides insight into research currently being undertaken at our Faculty, is being published.
Whether in the form of digital work with texts and objects, archaeology in Europe and Africa, editing text-corpora or linguistic and cultural investigations into the periods spanning from Antiquity to the global present – academics of the Faculty of Arts and the Humanities undertake research with a great deal of commitment and ingenuity.  
To gain an impression of the diversity of topics and the methodological range of the research undertaken at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, you are cordially invited you to peruse this brochure.
Our special thanks go to the scholars involved in the projects presented for their active support of the editorial team.
We wish all readers great pleasure in discovering the fascinating world of the humanities!

The Dean,
Prof. Dr. Monika Schausten
The Dean of Research,
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Andreas Speer



Articles in single view


How words meet signs

A Corpus Study of Mouthing and Fingerspelling in Russian Sign Language: Description and Implications for Cross-modal Contact

Principal Investigator: Dr. Anastasia Bauer | Department of Slavic Studies

Post-Doc-Project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

The vast majority of sign language users are multilingual. They communicate through sign language and have very good know- ledge of the surrounding spoken and written language, since they are exposed to it on a daily basis. In other words, they sign in one language and read and write in the other one. Spoken and sign languages are thus constantly in close contact. As a result of this bimodal bilingualism, spoken language closely intertwines with and influences sign language on different levels of linguistic organization. Our project deals with the effects of this specific cross-modal language contact.
. [....]




Sculptural Furnishing and Architectural Decoration of the Villas in Oplontis

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Dietrich Boschung | Research Archive for Ancient Sculpture

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

The villas of Oplontis, located on the Gulf of Naples and in close proximity to the modern town of Torre Annunziata, were covered by volcanic material after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. Since their rediscovery, they have been systematically excavated and the findings have been published in a series of preliminary reports. The elaborately decorated Structure A could be identified as the villa of the empress Poppaea (ca. 30-65 CE), the wife of the emperor Nero. Previous research revealed that the initial structure was erected during Caesar’s reign; a later one was renovated in several phases. The structure seems to have been under construction during the volcanic burial of the region. [....]




The Book of the Dead of lahtesnakht

Preservation of Germany‘s longest Papyrus

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Richard Bußmann | Egyptology

Funded by the Coordination Office for the Preservation of the Written Cultural Heritage State Library, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation

The papyrus collection of the department of Egyptology holds a remarkable document from the later history of ancient Egypt, papyrus Coloniensis 10207. The papyrus roll originally measured approximately 10 cm in diameter and 25 cm in height. It was unrolled and turned out to be a Book of the Dead, 23.50 m long, written for an Egyptian woman called Iahtesnakht (“The-moon-is-her-strength”). It contains spells and vignettes for the deceased, dating to around 600 BCE. [....]




Living and Working on the Periphery of the Roman Town Colonia Ulpia Traiana (CUT)

Project Leader 2018-19: Prof. Dr. Eckhard Deschler-Erb | Archaeology of the Roman Provinces

Funded by the Fritz-Thyssen Foundation

The Roman town Colonia Ulpia Traiana (CUT) was located in what is now Xanten and never saw any further construction in the post Roman period. Archaeological research and excavations have been carried out in and around CUT since the 16th century and particularly since the 19th century, culminating in the founding of the LVR Archaeological Park (APX) in 1973. Thanks to legislation protecting archaeological monuments, archaeologists have since had an almost unique opportunity to explore all facets of a Roman town in one of the north-western provinces. [....]




Commentary on the Tabula Peutingeriana

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Michael Rathmann (KU Eichstätt), PD Dr. Silke Diederich
(University of Cologne) | Department of Classics (Classical Philology)

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

The Peutinger Map, part of the UNESCO world heritage, is a sui generis in the history of cartography. The parchment scroll from 1200 CE is a replica of an original that probably received its final form in 435 CE. As it is the only large-size map passed down from antiquity, it is clear how essential its analysis is for understanding ancient concepts of geographical space. [...]




Immortalized in Stone

Memory Making in Late Medieval China

Fellowship Project Alexei Ditter/Jessey Choo at the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities
Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Günter Blamberger, Prof. Dr. Dietrich Boschung and Prof. Dr. Alexei Ditter (Reed College), Prof. Dr. Jessey Choo (Rutgers University)

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Since 2009, the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities has invited Fellows from the entire spectrum of the humanities to the University of Cologne to discuss questions of the genesis, dynamics and mediality of cultural figurations. From January to summer 2019, two renowned China experts, Alexei Ditter (Chinese Literature, Reed College) and Jessey Choo (Chinese History & Religion, Rutgers University), will be in Cologne to undertake their collaborative project, a study of the construction, circulation, and consumption of memory in the 7th till 10th century in China. [....]




Dynamics of Conventionality (400 - 1550)

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Udo Friedrich, Prof. Dr. Karl Ubl | Medieval Studies

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

The research training group “Dynamics of Conventionality (400 - 1550)” emerged from an interdisciplinary cooperation among medievalists from the University of Cologne, covering the following subject areas: Medieval History, German Medieval Literature, History of Art and Architecture, Philosophy, Medieval Latin studies, and Musicology. Over the course of four and a half years, twelve Ph.D students and one postdoctoral scholar will conduct research on the relationship between preservation and change from a historical perspective. [...]




Research and
Digital Knowledge Transfer

The “Physical Cabinet“ from the Collection of the Cologne Jesuits, the Founding of the Kölner Gymnasial- und Stiftungsfonds and the History of Donating in and around 1800

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Gudrun Gersmann | Chair of Early Modern History

Funded by the Kölner Gymnasial- und Stiftungsfonds (KGS)

This new research project under the supervision of Prof Dr Gudrun Gersmann has a duration of four years (2018-2022). It is part of a broader funding initiative of the Kölner Gymnasial- und Stiftungsfonds (KGS) to explore and digitally document the historical heritage of the Cologne Jesuits in the context of the founding of the KGS in and around 1800. Other Cologne institutions such as the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum and the USB Cologne are also involved in the initiative within the framework of individual sub-projects. [...]




Paper Trails

A Material History of 16th and 17th Century Icelandic Books from Paper Production to Library Collection

Participating Researchers: Dr. Regina Jucknies | Department of Scandinavian and Finnish Studies
Prof. Dr. Þórunn Sigurðardóttir, Árni Magnússon | Institute for Icelandic Studies, Reykjavík
Dr. Silvia Hufnagel | Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna

Funded by the Icelandic Research Centre (RANNÍS)

This research project follows the paths of Icelandic paper from its production in Central and Northern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries via the processes of writing and printing books in Iceland to present repositories in Islandica collections on the continent.
As there were no paper mills in Iceland, paper had to be imported. Where was it produced? Who started the import of paper? Where and for what purpose was it bought? [...]





Living Systems in the Digital Humanities

Prof. Dr. Brigitte Mathiak | Data Center for the Humanities (University of Cologne);
Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Frank Leymann | Institute of Architecture of Application Systems (University of Stuttgart)

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Research in the humanities has long been a digital practice as well. This is reflected i. a. by the methods of result validation. Alongside classic modes of publication, presentation systems, interactive visualizations, research databases, digital editions and virtual work environments have been established as digital instruments of result assurance. Accordingly, standardized data formats and databases play a central role in ensuring the sustainability and scientific replicability of digital knowledge artifacts. [...]




Maria Sibylla Merian Centre

Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America (Mecila)

Academic Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Barbara Potthast | Iberian and Latin American History (UoC subproject)

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Latin American societies have long been characterised by ethnic, religious and social diversity but also by inequality. It is the manifold discourses and practices of ‘conviviality’ – coexistence and cohabitation with difference – in the past and present of South and Middle American as well as the Caribbean societies that are at the heart of Mecila, a new International Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The Centre examines past and present forms of social, political, and cultural ‘conviviality‘ in Latin America and the Caribbean. [...]




Collaborative Research Centre 806: Our way to Europe

Culture-Environment Interaction and Human Mobility in the Late Quaternary

Spokespersons: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Richter | Institute for Prehistoric Archaeology (University of Cologne), Prof. Dr. Frank Schäbitz | Didactics of Geography (University of Cologne), Prof. Dr. Thomas Litt | Mineralogy and Palaeontology (University of Bonn)

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

The occurrence of Modern Humans in Africa, 300,000 years ago, and their dispersal into Europe has been the research focus of CRC 806 (a Collaborative Research Centre of the DFG) since 2009. Corings into freshwater lake sediments and archaeological surveys in Ethiopia shed light on the cultural and environmental context of the time range from which our direct ancestors originated. Recently, a CRC 806 team discovered stone artefacts from the same time range, on top of a volcano, at 3000 m a.s.l. in the Ethiopian highlands - the highest place in the world where a hand axe has been found.[...]




Averroes (Ibn Rušd) and the Arabic, Hebrew and Latin Reception of Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy

Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Andreas Speer, Jun.-Prof. Dr. David Wirmer | Thomas Institute

Funded by the German Academies‘ long-term Programme / North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts

Averroes Edition is part of the international large-scale project Averrois opera. This project was initiated in 1931 by the Medieval Academy of America under the direction of H. A. Wolfson. Under the title “Averroes and the Arabic, Hebrew and Latin Reception of Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy”, the Thomas Institute began a trilingual edition project comprising commentaries and writings on the Aristotelian corpus by Ibn Bāǧǧas (d. 1139) and Ibn Rušd (1126–1198) in 2016. The project is being funded within the framework of the Academic Programme of the North-Rhine Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts under the aegis of the Union Académique Internationale (UAI). [...]





Edition of the Frankish Capitularies

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Karl Ubl | Chair of Medieval History

Funded by the German Academies‘ long-term Programme / North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts

This project is preparing a new edition of the decrees of the Frankish rulers. These texts - known as capitularies because of their subdivision into chapters - are amongst the most important sources for the history of the Frankish kingdoms that covered large parts of Western and Central Europe during the 6th-9th century CE.
The new edition of the Frankish capitularies aims to take their unique history of transmission into full consideration. While capitularies originated as individual texts from deliberations and assemblies at court, they were transmitted exclusively in collections produced locally by royal agents. [...]




Rebels in Power

Factionalism in Shandong during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1969)

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Felix Wemheuer | Chinese Studies

Initial funding from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the GSSC

During the early Cultural Revolution (1966-1969), factional conflicts inside the CCP (Communist Party of China) and within the society resulted in civil war and the almost  collapse of the party-state. We chose Shandong Province as a case study for our project to carry out research on the question of how factional conflicts developed at the various administrative levels of state and society. The province is is the central level of the analysis of factionalism because the Central Government did not allow the establishment of rebel mass organizations on a national level. [...]





Knowledge-Centre for Linguistic Diversity and Language Documentation

Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Andreas Witt | Institute for Digital Humanities
Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Himmelmann | Institute for Linguistics

Funded by CLARIN-D

he CLARIN Knowledge Center for Linguistic Diversity and Language Documentation (CKLD) is a decentralized competence center that supports researchers from the early planning phase to the realization of language documentation projects or other field-research-based projects.
The CKLD provides information and support related to fieldwork and data-related methodological issues especially regarding equipment, digital tools and methods. [...]




The Narrative Dissemination of Religious Knowledge

Publication and Commentary of Spiritual Verse and Prose Texts from the 13th to the 16th century

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Ziegeler (University of Cologne) | Department of German Language and Literature I, Prof. Dr. Klaus Ridder (University of Tübingen) | Department of German Philology/ Medieval Studies

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

In parchment and paper manuscripts from the 13th to the 16th centuries, a limited amount of thus far overlooked short narrative texts that are secular and literary in addition to being religious were collected and written down. Following an eight-year project that was funded by the DFG and undertaken at the Universities of Cologne and Tübingen within the framework of which medieval German secular verse novels were successfully and timely completed, an application has been granted to edit and annotate short spiritual texts that are often transmitted in the same manuscripts. [...]




Extremely low Population Densities and uninhabited Areas

Research on Population Dynamics of our Ancestors

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Andreas Zimmermann, Prof. Dr. Silviane Scharl | Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology

Funded by the German Research Foundation (Subproject E1, CRC 806)

Demographic studies are rarely concerned with prehistoric population developments. This is likely due to the difficult data situation. However, for this section of human history in particular, demographic factors are essential in modelling: the spread of anatomically modern humans, the appearance and disappearance of cultures and new economic spheres can only be explained against the background of population dynamics. [...]