Beyond Modern Science I: Basic Terms of Ancient Scholarly Knowledge and Practices

Until today, the historiography of sciences of Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Near East focuses primarily on astronomy, mathematics and medicine as scientific disciplines. These choices were based on a modern view of the concept and categories of science developed by historians of science in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, more recent researchers of the pre-Greek history of science have established that the concepts and categories of scholarship within individual disciplines are specific to individual cultures and change over time.

As a consequence it is necessary to establish categories and concepts of science in Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Near East using a culture-specific perspective. Our conference focuses on concepts and contexts of epistemological terms used in Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern texts. In addition the Egyptian and Mesopotamian scholarly terminology will be compared with that of Greek, Latin, Chinese and Sanskrit texts. The individual lectures will examine the lexical and semantic field of terms connected with knowledge and practices of scholars in these cultures.

The aim of the conference is to exceed the defined semantics of the individual lexical terms and to determine previously disregarded scholarly disciplines by rejecting a pre-classification, that was based on modern scientific disciplines.


Date: January 9 to 11, 2020

Venue: Erbacher Hof Mainz



Interested guests are welcome. The participation is free of charge but advance registration is requested until December 15th, 2019. Please contact Dr. Daliah Bawanypeck (



Prof. Dr. Annette Imhausen Prof. Dr. Tanja Pommerening
Historisches Seminar, Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Universität Frankfurt Institut für Altertumswissenschaften, Ägyptologie, Universität Mainz


Supported by:

  • “Gutenberg Workshops" (aus Mitteln der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft im Rahmen der Exzellenzstrategie von Bund und Ländern gefördert)
  • Top-level research area JGU “40.000 Years of Human Challenges” (MWWK RLP)