Major Award for University of Hamburg: Understanding Written Artefacts

Major Award for University of Hamburg: Understanding Written Artefacts

Photo: UHH/K. Helmholz

Congratulations to our SSHRC and Glorisun Network Partner, the University of Hamburg, which has just been awarded a Cluster of Excellence by the Federal Government of Germany! The importance of this award is detailed below. The FROGBEAR project looks forward to collaborating with the University of Hamburg in the coming years!


Writing is one of the most important cultural techniques to have shaped the world’s societies. For most of human history, writing has been handwriting and has been part of diverse and complex manuscript cultures. Written artefacts have been continuously produced until this day, though the invention of printing with moveable types marginalised some while at the same time prompted new ones, not least digital media.

Over the past three decades, scholarly interest in written artefacts has increased significantly. Enhanced possibilities for the production, storage, circulation, and analysis of images and texts have stimulated historical and systematic inquiry. Material sciences provide methods for asserting the biological and chemical identities of written artefacts. In Asia and Africa manuscripts and inscriptions are increasingly relevant to cultural heritages, and the vast quantities of manuscripts have begun to be catalogued and made accessible. The time has come to develop a truly global framework for the study of all written artefacts from the beginning of writing to the present day and from all regions that have produced such artefacts.

We expect the Cluster of Excellence ‘Understanding Written Artefacts’ to serve as a model for collaborative research and to firmly establish cooperation between the humanities and natural sciences, including altogether forty investigators from across the humanities and ten from the natural sciences, computer science and psychology. Together they will establish a unified, comparative and comprehensive approach for studying how the production of written artefacts has shaped human societies and cultures, and how these in turn have adapted written artefacts to their needs. Eventually, they will produce insights immediately relevant for the preservation of written artefacts as cultural heritage.

Click here to learn more about  this Cluster’s Research Fields, Vacant Positions and Contact information.

About the award:

Excellence Strategy

The Excellence Initiative has successfully revitalised the German Higher Education landscape. Now a new programme is about to start and take the development another step further: the Excellence Strategy

The aim of the Excellence Strategy is to ensure that German universities fare even better in the face of international competition and achieve even more academic excellence. © BMBF/Hans-Joachim Rickel

Institutions of higher education engage in research and teaching and train young researchers. The Federal Government and the Länder launched the Initiative for Excellence in 2005 with a view to making universities even more attractive for outstanding students and researchers.

Excellence Initiative

The initiative has been very successful as demonstrated by the excellent research that has been performed in interdisciplinary and inter-departmental institutional cooperation and by the fact that German universities are networking more and more with higher education institutions throughout the world. The Excellence Initiative is extremely attractive and its appeal extends far beyond Germany’s national borders: An increasing number of researchers are coming to Germany from abroad. Other countries have launched their own programmes along the lines of the Excellence Initiative.

Excellence Strategy

Beginning in 2018, Germany is introducing a new initiative – the Excellence Strategy – to fund cutting-edge research at its universities. It takes the Excellence Initiative a step further. The new strategy has been agreed between the Federal Government and the Länder and will provide funding of 533 million euros per year (75% Federal Government, 25% host Land of successful university).

Academic excellence

The aim of the Excellence Strategy is to ensure that German universities fare even better in the face of international competition and achieve even more academic excellence. Such beacons of research excellence have a positive effect on the entire higher education landscape and help to enhance Germany’s reputation as a hub for research and higher education. The evaluation of the Excellence Initiative confirms this effect.

The new Excellence Strategy consists of two funding lines:

  • Excellence Clusters
  • Universities of Excellence”

(Federal Ministry of Education and Research. “Excellence Strategy.” )