Sonderforschungsbereich 950

Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe

manuscript of the month

MS Sierra-Texupan, p. 59

Three Cultural Traditions, Two Writing Systems and One Shopping List: The Sierra-Texupan Codex

Once the dust settled after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the year 1521, a new government system was established in Mesoamerica, the region spanning present-day Mexico and Central America. That was the New Spain Viceroyalty. Culturally speaking, this change of administration was especially complicated for the Spaniards because the Aztecs had dominated over a population of seven million in more than three hundred cities in the southeastern part of the region, comprised of the Otomi, Totonac, Mixtec and other peoples. Each and every one of these peoples had languages and dialects of their own. Now Europeans, speaking Spanish, Italian and French, had to communicate with indigenous peoples through Nahuatl, the lingua franca under the Aztecs, while trying to introduce a writing system employing the Latin alphabet to local populations. How did scribes in the region deal with the challenge in communication?


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Job vacancies at the Cluster of Excellence

Following the approval of the Cluster of Excellence “Understanding Written Artefacts” Universität Hamburg invites applications for new positions for research associates and administration.
Further information and calls for applications

CSMC branch office in Kathmandu

Since October 2018 the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) of the University of Hamburg operates a branch office in Kathmandu, Nepal. Through the joint lease with the South-Asia Institute of the University of Heidelberg (SAI) which has had a regional office in the Lalitpur district for several years, the various German research initiatives in the region can now be bundled.
In future, the CSMC will coordinate its projects on the rich writing culture in South Asia from this office. Since spring 2018, preparations have been underway for measures to preserve the palm-leaf manuscript holdings in Nepalese archives and libraries. Dr. Bidur Bhattarai is the local project coordinator for the CSMC.

Cluster of Excellence for Hamburg’s research on manuscripts!

Researchers of the CSMC and from other institutions have been successful with their proposal within the Excellence Strategy: the DFG approved of the Cluster „Understanding Written Artefacts“, which will commence in January 2019.

New Petra Kappert Fellow at CSMC

Ondřej Škrabal studied Sinology at the Charles University in Prague and History of Ancient China at the Beijing University and focusses his research on early Chinese bronzes and their inscriptions. He will stay at CSMC until the end of june 2019.

New Franco-German collaboration project at CSMC

Emmanuel Francis (CNRS-CEIAS, Paris) and Eva Wilden (CSMC) have just received a collaborative ANR-DFG grant for three years, scheduled to start in March 2019. Under the title TST: “Texts Surrounding Texts – Satellite Stanzas, Prefaces and Colophons in South-Indian Manuscripts (collections of the Paris BnF and Hamburg Stabi)” they will bring together a team of international specialists in order to catalogue and do research on the two named collections of South-Indian palm-leaf manuscripts, the former predominantly in Tamil, the latter predominantly in Sanskrit.

New volume of the series Studies in Manuscript Cultures (SMC)

Pasquale Orsini describes in Studies on Greek and Coptic Majuscule Scripts and Books (SMC 15) features of the different graphic phenomena within their contexts by addressing questions like where, when, by whom and for which purpose the individual witnesses were produced. The comparative approach tackles problems and limits of the palaeographical methodology and allows to identify common issues relevant also to other manuscript cultures. SMC 15 is available via open access. The first review can be read here

New volume of the journal manuscripts cultures published

Volume 11 of manuscript cultures includes contributions to the 2nd conference ‘Natural Sciences and Technology in Manuscript Analysis’ that took place at the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) in 2016 and also some related studies by CSMC projects.

BMBF supports research association

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research supports the three-year joint project ‘Coloured Maps’ (‘Kolorierte Landkarten’), beginning on 1 August 2018. The project involves the CSMC (Prof. Dr. Oliver Hahn) and the Mineralogical Museum, CeNak, (Prof. Dr. Jochen Schlüter), University of Hamburg, the Stiftung Hanseatisches Wirtschaftsarchiv (Kathrin Enzel) and the Museum am Rothenbaum in Hamburg (Dr. Susanne Knödel). Applying methods from the material sciences and with art- and cultural-historical approaches, the group analyses hand-drawn and hand-coloured maps from European and East Asian areas, produced between the 15th and the 20th centuries.

New research on organic writing supports at CSMC

Prof. Dr. Markus Fischer, member of CSMC, and colleagues published a new study on materials science research on paper and palm leafs. The study is part of the network ‘Artefact Profiling’ for enhancing research on written artefacts. The network comprises the Hamburg School of Food Science (HSFS), the Institute of Wood Science, the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC), the Institute for Mineralogy and Petrography and the Institute of Advanced Ceramics at the Hamburg University of Technology.

Handwriting Analysis Tool published

The “Handwriting Analysis Tool (HAT 2)” is a software tool to analyse handwriting styles. Known and unknown hands can be analysed by automatically comparing digital images of manuscripts. The software, developed at CSMC by Hussein Mohammed, can be downloaded and used for free under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-NC).


22 - 23 February 2019 | Workshop
Prophetic Traditions Materialised: Dimensions of Hadith Manuscripts

Details and Registration
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

25 February - 1 March 2019 | Workshop
Winter School on Cuneiform Culture

Details and Registration
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

10 - 15 March 2019 | Summer School
Summer School manuSciences '19
In cooperation with the CSMC & BAM, the PSL Research University (France) organizes the German-French Summer School manuSciences '19
Le CAES du CNRS, la Villa Clythia, Frejus, France.
Details and application

22 - 23 March 2019 | Workshop
Bon Manuscripts
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

8 - 10 April 2019 | Workshop
Texts Surrounding Texts
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

11 April 2019 6pm | Lecture
Dr. Jan-Ulrich Sobisch
Ruhr University of Bochum
The Paris Manuscript of the Single Intention (dGongs gcig), a Groundbreaking Trove
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

18 April 2019 6pm | Lecture
Prof. Dr. Claudia Rapp w.M. FBA
University of Vienna
The Monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai and its Palimpsests
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, Raum 0001

9 May 2019 6pm | Lecture
Prof. Dr. Marilena Maniaci
University of Cassino and Southern Lazio
Codicology of the Scroll
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

10 - 11 May 2019 | Workshop
Manuscripts in other Sinitic Scripts
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26