Archives of Earth - Archives of Humanity


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All students can register for one module. You can specify two preferences. Please use the priorities “low” and “high”. If you have not been assigned a place in the project after the end of the assignment and are still interested in participating, please contact sibel.yildirim[@] directly.

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Academic Responsibility

Univ.-Prof. Dr. phil. Klaus Freitag

Department of Ancient History

Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Klaus Reicherter

Department of Area Neotectonics and Geohazards

Contact Person







Monday, 4:30-6:00 p.m.


Today, archives usually collect documents, primarily written material, but also other information carriers such as card indexes, files, maps, plans, image, film, sound and machine-readable data carriers. The focus is on permanent and orderly storage in a fixed location, which is regulated in Germany by archive laws, among other things. In this sense, however, archives also play a role as carriers of memory, representation, knowledge construction and the practice of rule. In context of an expanded concept of archives, certain places also take on the function of archives in the broadest sense. We want to reflect on such archives of the world using the example of the Aachen Cathedral. By this, we do not only mean the cathedral archives of the former Marienstift and the present cathedral chapter (“The memory of the cathedral”). From a geological point of view, traces of earthquakes can be found in Aachen Cathedral as sediments serve as an archive. Historians discover various ancient remains in the cathedral, such as a thermal bath complex located under the cathedral and ancient marble parts with carvings or graffiti on the throne or altar slab of today’s main altar. In the arcades, antique columns from Rome and Ravenna were placed, which were set as architectural ornaments of the cathedral in its founding period. At the main entrance there is a bear/wolf, which is also supposed to be from ancient origin. We want to deal with these remains and especially with the question in which way the cathedral can be considered as an “archive”.

Furthermore, this semester we want to deal generally with the question of what we know about the history of ancient Aachen and the Aachen area from a literary, epigraphic, numismatic and archaeological point of view. How are these sources collected in various “archives”, organized and made available to a scientific and non-scientific public?  Within the framework of the event, excursions (possibly digital) are also planned in Aachen and the surrounding area.  One will lead us to the Gallo-Roman temple district, today called Varnenum, which was a cult and consecration site located on a plateau between Kornelimünster and Breinig in the south of Aachen. Of course, the Aachen Cathedral will also be an excursion destination.

Our program, which will focus on our immediate surroundings, will be supplemented by guest contributions and specific and comparative topics. In addition, we offer a varied program with speakers who will report on various archives – also from the ancient Mediterranean world



4. Mai 2020

Überblick Einführung Naturkatastrophen und Überblick Tsunami

18. Mai 2020

Erdbeben und Tsunami im Golf von Euboia 426 v. Chr.

8. Juni 2020

Der Untergang von Helike 373 v. Chr.

22. Juni 2020

Der Vulkanausbruch von Pompeii 79 n. Chr.

6. Juli 2020

Ein Blick zurück: Der Vulkanausbruch auf Thera/Sontorini

13. Juli 2020

Der Untergang von Atlantis. Mythos und Realität


J. Borsch, Erschütterte Welt: Soziale Bewältigung von Erdbeben im östlichen Mittelmeerraum der Antike, Tübingen 2018. 
E. Olshausen / H. Sonnabend (Hrsg.), Naturkatastrophen in der antiken Welt (Stuttgarter Kolloquium zur Historischen Geographie des Altertums 6, 1996), Stuttgart 1998. 
H. Sonnabend, Naturkatastrophen in der Antike. Wahrnehmung, Deutung, Management, Stuttgart 1999. 
H. Sonnabend, Katastrophen in der Antike, Darmstadt / Mainz 2013. 
G. Waldherr, Erdbeben. Das aussergewöhnliche Normale. Zur Rezeption seismischer Aktivitäten in literarischen Quellen vom 4. Jahrhundert v. Chr. bis zum 4. Jahrhundert n. Chr., Stuttgart 1997

Procedure/Working method​

Depending on the course of studies, module and examination, credit points can be achieved through participation.


Term Paper (3 CP, 10 Seiten)

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