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72282-01 - Forschungsseminar: Crisis and Trauma in Ancient Cultures 3 KP

Semester Frühjahrsemester 2024
Angebotsmuster einmalig
Dozierende Elena Luise Hertel (elena.hertel@unibas.ch)
Anne-Sophie Meyer (anne-sophie.meyer@unibas.ch, BeurteilerIn)
Inhalt Crisis is a universal topic that can affect all cultures of the world, at different times and in various contexts. On a socio-political level, a crisis can reveal weaknesses in a system and even lead to the collapse of systems such as forms of government or social organization. At the same, a crisis can enforce quick action and as such act as a catalyst for innovation. As such, the study of crisis reveals the strengths and adaptability of societies and provides an opportunity to gain insight into the stability of their organisational systems.
In ancient societies, the study of crisis presents several challenges but also a great potential for understanding cultural developments. The goal of this class is to discuss how we can approach these challenges and make use of the bird’s eye view of a modern observer, which allows us to study societies before, during, and after catastrophic events and extended periods of crisis to gain a better understanding of the dynamic of these societies’ functionality. In order to not only focus on a distant perspective but to take the human experience of crisis into account, we plan to combine this with the topic of trauma, to be discussed both on a collective and – where the sources allow it – on an individual basis.
Particular attention will be paid to:
• Recognising crisis in ancient cultures: natural disasters and environmental change in the archaeological record; interpreting first-hand accounts of traumatic events.
• Crisis management: immediate responses to destabilising situations (e.g. construction activity, increased/decreased religious activity, ...)
• Resilience: the ability of a society to absorb shocks without fundamentally changing its structure.
• Collective trauma, personal trauma: responses of societies and individuals to deal with the psychological effects of traumatic events, visible in written sources (e.g. crisis literature, philosophy) and material culture (e.g. changes in art).
• Collapse or change? How to interpret signs of cultural change according to current methodological models
Suggestions for specific topics for discussion:
• The volcano eruption of Akrotiri and the collapse of palatial structures in Bronze Age Crete
• The volcano eruption of Pompeii and its reception
• The 'Sea Peoples' event and its impact on the Bronze Age Aegean
• Catastrophic natural events in antiquity (e.g. floods, earthquakes, droughts)
• Responses to civil war and social instability in ancient literature (Egyptian, Latin, Greek...)
• Ancient theoretical approaches and responses to (natural) disasters (e.g. through religion, philosophy, consolation literature)
• Theory: Societal collapse and resilience theory
• Theory: The concept of crisis literature
• Theory: Changes in art in response to the crisis
Lernziele The students are able to link the concepts of crisis and trauma with current definitions and theories and to discuss them critically. They will gain an insight into the various directions of research on these concepts and can use an example of their choice to test and present the application of these concepts and theories.
Literatur Selected bibliography:

G. Capriotti Vittozzi (ed), Egyptian Curses 2. A Research of Ancient Catastrophes (Rome 2015).
T. F. Cunningham and J. M. Driessen, Crisis to collapse: the archaeology of social breakdown (Aegis 11; Louvain-la-Neuve, 2017).
A. A. Long, Natural Catastrophe in Greek and Roman Philosophy, in: U. Coope, B. Sattler (eds.), Ancient Ethics and the Natural World (Cambridge 2021), 50–68.
G. D. Middleton (ed.), Collapse and Transformation: The Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age in the Aegean (Philadelphia, 2020).
M. R. Salzman, The "Falls" of Rome: crises, resilience, and resurgence in late antiquity. (Cambridge; New York, 2021).
H. Sonnabend, Naturkatastrophen in der Antike. Wahrnehmung, Deutung, Management (Stuttgart 2013).
Bemerkungen The language of instruction will be German and/or English depending on the group of participants.
Unterrichtssprache wird Deutsch und/oder Englisch sein, je nach Teilnehmende.

The course will be conducted as a block seminar:
March 8: 13.00-16.30
April 12: 13.00 - 16.30
April 16: 10.00-16.30
May 14: 10.00-16.30
May 17: 13.00-16.30


Teilnahmebedingungen Advanced knowledge in a field of ancient studies and interest in interdisciplinary work; students from other disciplines are also welcome to participate, please contact the lecturers.
Unterrichtssprache Englisch
Einsatz digitaler Medien kein spezifischer Einsatz
HörerInnen willkommen


Intervall Wochentag Zeit Raum
unregelmässig Siehe Einzeltermine


Datum Zeit Raum
Freitag 08.03.2024 13.15-16.45 Uhr Rosshof, Tagungsraum 306
Freitag 12.04.2024 13.15-16.45 Uhr Rosshof, Tagungsraum 306
Dienstag 16.04.2024 10.15-16.45 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Seminarraum 107
Dienstag 14.05.2024 10.15-16.45 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Seminarraum 107
Freitag 17.05.2024 13.15-16.45 Uhr Rosshof, Tagungsraum 306
Module Doktorat Ägyptologie: Empfehlungen (Promotionsfach: Ägyptologie)
Doktorat Alte Geschichte: Empfehlungen (Promotionsfach: Alte Geschichte)
Doktorat Gräzistik: Empfehlungen (Promotionsfach: Gräzistik)
Doktorat Historisch-vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft: Empfehlungen (Promotionsfach: Historisch-vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft)
Doktorat Klassische Archäologie: Empfehlungen (Promotionsfach: Klassische Archäologie)
Doktorat Latinistik: Empfehlungen (Promotionsfach: Latinistik)
Ur- und Frühgeschichtliche und Provinzialrömische Archäologie (Doktoratsstudium - Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät)
Leistungsüberprüfung Lehrveranst.-begleitend
Hinweise zur Leistungsüberprüfung Regular attendance; regular preparation of meetings; presentation on a topic of one's choice.
An-/Abmeldung zur Leistungsüberprüfung Anmelden: Belegen; Abmelden: nicht erforderlich
Wiederholungsprüfung keine Wiederholungsprüfung
Skala Pass / Fail
Wiederholtes Belegen nicht wiederholbar
Zuständige Fakultät Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät, studadmin-philhist@unibas.ch
Anbietende Organisationseinheit Fachbereich Ägyptologie