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Naturvorstellungen im Altertum
Schilderungen und Darstellungen von Natur im Alten Orient und in der griechischen Antike edited by Florian Schimpf, Dominik Berrens, Katharina Hillenbrand, Tim Brandes and Carrie Schidlo. ii+285 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white (56 colour plates). German text. 411 2018. Available both in print and Open Access. Printed ISBN 9781784918255. Epublication ISBN 9781784918262.
Book contents page
Everyone who investigates pre-modern concepts of nature cannot avoid a critical reflection on the ancient understandings of it. Here, “nature” is understood in the sense of a seemingly untouched space, largely independent of human culture. While this concept of “nature” is prevalent in modern times, the reconstruction of ancient ideas is difficult in that concepts of nature, if at all present, emphasize other aspects. For example, the Greek term φύσις in pre-Hellenistic times defines the nature of a thing rather than an untouched environment. A word for “nature” in this sense has not been handed down to us in the remaining texts of the Ancient Near East and Classical Antiquity. Nevertheless, such concepts can certainly be reconstructed from descriptions of nature to be found in literature and the representations of natural elements in art.

The present volume aims at identifying these concepts of nature in texts as well as in archaeological remains of the Ancient Near Eastern and the Greek culture from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period. Contributions from the fields of archaeology and philology are juxtaposed for each time period in chronological order. This arrangement provides a good overview of the concepts of nature prevailing throughout different period and cultures.

GERMAN DESCRIPTION: Der Begriff „Natur“ wird in modernen, mitteleuropäischen Gesellschaften meist im Sinne eines vermeintlich unberührten Raumes verstanden, der weitgehend unbeeinflusst von menschlicher Kultur ist. Für vormoderne Kulturen lassen sich solche Vorstellungen bzw. Konzepte sehr viel schwieriger nachweisen, da beispielsweise ein Wort für „Natur“ mit der eben genannten Bedeutung in den erhaltenen Texten des Alten Orients und der griechischen Antike so nicht überliefert zu sein scheint. Gleichwohl werden durchaus Naturelemente in der antiken Literatur, der Flächenkunst sowie in antiken Monumenten beschrieben bzw. abgebildet sowie als integrative Bestandteile genutzt und funktionalisiert. Daraus lassen sich Konzepte von „Natur“ herausarbeiten und rekonstruieren. Der vorliegende Band möchte solche „Naturkonzepte“ in Texten, Artefakten und Denkmälern des Alten Orients und des griechischen Kulturraumes von der Archaik bis in den Hellenismus identifizieren und einen Überblick über die jeweils in einem bestimmten Zeit- und Kulturraum vorherrschenden Vorstellungen sowie deren diachrone Entwicklung geben.

About the Editors
FLORIAN SCHIMPF studied Classical Archaeology and History at the universities of Frankfurt and Istanbul, whilst gaining practical experiences by participating in excavations in Priene (Turkey), Portugal and on the Balkans. In 2013 he joined the Research Training Group “Early Concepts of Man and Nature” at the University of Mainz with a project on natural sanctuaries in ancient Greece and Asia Minor. His research interests lie in the fields of religious history, Greek cult practices and metrology.

DOMINIK BERRENS studied Classical Philology and Biology at the University of Freiburg. From 2013-2017 he was part of the Research Training Group “Early Concepts of Man and Nature” at the University of Mainz, where he received his doctorate with a dissertation on social insects in antiquity in 2016. Since October 2017 he has been a postdoctoral researcher working on the project “NOSCEMUS – Nova Scientia: Early Modern Science and Latin” funded by the European Research Council at the University of Innsbruck. His research interests lie in pre-modern scientific texts and ancient drama.

KATHARINA HILLENBRAND studied Classical Philology and German Studies at the Universities of Würzburg and Frankfurt. In 2014 she joined the Research Training Group “Early Concepts of Man and Nature” at the University of Mainz with a project on concepts of volcanic phenomena in Roman antiquity. Currently she is working at the department of Classical Philology at the University of Frankfurt. Her research interests lie in the fields of ancient meteorology, the literary formation of natural phenomena and Neronian literature.

TIM BRANDES studied Ancient Near Eastern Studies and Egyptology at the University of Göttingen. Since 2014 he is a member of the Research Training Group “Early Concepts of Man and Nature” at the University of Mainz, where he is working on a project on Babylonian and Assyrian concepts of time. His research interests lie in the fields of Assyrian and Babylonian astronomy, scholarship and religion.

CARRIE SCHIDLO studied Classical Archaeology, Egyptology and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Göttingen after working as a pharmaceutical technical assistant. From 2014 till 2016 she was part of the Research Training Group “Early Concepts of Man and Nature” at the University of Mainz. Since 2017 she has been working at the General Medical Council of Rhineland-Palatinate. Her areas of research are the Hellenistic and Roman periods of Egypt, especially their funerary customs, as well as ancient medicine and archaeobotany.


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