Invitation to an interdisciplinary symposium

Writings of Early Scholars in the Ancient Near East,

Egypt and Greece:

Zur Übersetzbarkeit von Wissenschaftssprachen des Altertums

The historiography of the sciences in antiquity (including Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures) has changed fundamentally during the past 40 years. Changing methodologies and aims have led to a focus on recognition and reconstruction of ancient scientific concepts, which can differ significantly from ”similar” modern concepts. As a way of bringing these changes to light in a useful way, the conference will focus on the problem of translations.

Translations are directly affected by the cultural beliefs of the translator. How then can ancient concepts that differ from our modern ones be expressed in modern languages? And how can these differences be understood by a modern reader? Currently, some translations which are likely to mislead a historian of science, a scientist or a mathematician may still be accepted as correct by the philologists of the individual cultures.

The conference aims, first, to explore problems involved in translating ancient scientific texts and, second, to create a methodological framework to improve the quality of future translations. To achieve this goal, we plan to bring together leading representatives and junior researchers with a philological background or a background in the history of science (Egyptology, Assyriology, Classics, editors of ancient scientific texts and scholars using them).

After an attempt to determine characteristic features of individual sciences in antiquity, and how they can be distinguished from non-scientific texts, specific examples will be used to enable interdisciplinary and intercultural discussion.

27-29 July 2009

Senatssaal der Naturwiss. Fakultät, Becherweg 21, Raum 07-232

Registration until 31 May 2009 is obligatory at

Prof. Dr. Annette Imhausen

Dr. Tanja Pommerening

Historisches Seminar der Universität Frankfurt

Institut für Ägyptologie und Altorientalistik der Universität Mainz

Wir danken für finanzielle Unterstützung