University of Innsbruck

Florian Posselt

Short Biography

  • Born 1994
  • 2013 – 2015 Bachelor in Technical Mathematics in Innsbruck (suspended)
  • 2015 – 2018 Bachelor degree in Classica et Orientalia in Innsbruck
  • 2018 – 2021 Master degree in Ancient History and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Innsbruck, thesis “Die Anzahl der Erdteile in der Archaik" (supervisor Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Robert Rollinger)
  • 2021 start of doctorate, working title “Die Entstehung der Erdteile" (supervisor Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Robert Rollinger, second supervisor Prof. Dr. Johannes Haubold, Princeton)

Teaching Activities

  • Seminar “Herodot: der Vater der Geschichtsschreibung”, winter semester 2021/22 at the Universität Kassel (GER)
  • Seminar "Geografische Weltvorstellungen in der Antike", winter semester 2022/23 at the Universität Kassel (GER)
  • Seminar "Quellen und Darstellungen der Alten Geschichte: Der Alte Orient und Griechenland - Entwicklung und Verbreitung von Wissen, Ideen und Vorstellungen", summer 2023 at the Universität Innsbruck (AUT)


  • Scholarship honouring outstanding performance by the University of Innsbruck (2021/ 2022)

Lectures and Chairs

  • 04.12.2019: panel chair at the international conference “The World of Alexander in Perspective: Contextualizing Arrian”
  • 20.09.2021: lecture "The Number of Continents in Archaic Greece" during the summer school/ international workshop "The Ancient Maritime World IV. International Workshop/ Summer School 2021. The Peloponnese and the Sea, from/ to Alimos Marina, Athens, 11th – 2nd October"
  • 30.10.2021: lecture on “Die Anzahl der Erdteile in der ionischen Archaik” at the 18. Österreichischer Althistorikerinnen- und Althistorikertag (Graz, AUT)
  • 13.11.2021: lecture on “Die Entstehung der Erdteile" at the AKME conference 2021 (Innsbruck, AUT)
  • 2nd December 2021: panel chair at the international online conference “Empires through the Ages: Short-term Empires – Rule or Exception?”
  • 21.06.2022: chair for panel 2 "Ancient Near East" and on the lecture on „Elam as a Borderland of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires” by Matthew Waters (Wisconsin-Eau Claire) in the context of the international conference “Contextualizing Imperial Borderlands (9th c. BC – 9th c. AD, and Beyond)" at the Vorarlberg museum in Bregenz (AUT), 20.-24.06.2022.
  • 21.09.2022: lecture "Handels- und Schifffahrtsrouten, astronomische Beobachtungen und Geopolitik - konkurrierende Modelle zur Ordnung der Welt im östlichen Mittelmeer in der griechischen Archaik und Klassik" during the Summer School "'The Doric Aegean and Crete' - Ancient Maritime World 2022" (
  • 02.02.2023: lecture "Thomas Hyde (1636–1703) und die Phönizier als Impulsgeber früher griechischer Weltvorstellungen" at the AKMe conference (Antike Kulturen des Mittelmeerraumes) in Salzburg (AUT)
  • 25.04.2023: lecture "Typology of Mesopotamian Royal Inscriptions" during the Summer School "Blended Intensive Program: Decoding Ancient Sources" (24.-29.4.2023) in Iași (ROU)
  • 06.07.2023: lecture "Ethnography in the Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions" at the conference "Achaemenid Workshop 2 - The Achaemenid Persian Empire and Imperial Transformation in the Ancient Near East (7th –2nd c. BC)" (03.-07.07.2023) in Obergurgl (AUT)

Scientific Interests

  • Mental mapping and spatial perception in the Ancient Near East and Greco-Roman antiquity
  • Cultural contacts in the Mediterranean
  • Greek historiography (Hecataeus, Herodotus, Xenophon, Ephoros)
  • Ancient Near Eastern royal inscriptions
  • History of Research of Ancient Geography

Further Qualifications

  • 2017 – 2021: Students’ representation for Classica et Orientalia/Ancient History and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
  • 2018 – 2021: several jobs as assistant within scientific research, management, and lecturing at the Institute for Ancient History and Ancient Near Eastern Studies as well as at the Institute for Classical Philology and Neolatin Studies
  • 2020: organisation of the international online conference “Ancient Worlds in Perspective: Contextualizing Herodotus. International conference commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Reinhold Bichler’s Herodots Welt” (Innsbruck, 2nd – 3rd December)
  • 2021: advanced online tutor training to use BigBlueButton in lecturing
  • 2021: organisation of the excursion “Israel und die jüdische Geschichte im Altertum”
  • 2021: organisation and supervision of the international online conference “Empires through the Ages: Short-term Empires – Rule or Exception?” (30th November – 2nd December)
  • 2023: advanced training in "Hochschuldidaktische Basisqualifizierung / general university teaching" during the summer semester 2023

Dissertation Project

My dissertation deals with the conceptual emergence of continents, i.e. how the world as a whole came to be first perceived and divided into major parts. Such a completed developoment can first be observed in and substantiated for Pindar’s writings (ca. 470 BC). Explanations for these processes have been put forward over the last centuries but the modern opinio communis is still based on Ernst Hugo Berger’s research. According to his views (Geschichte der wissenschaftlichen Erdkunde der Griechen, 21903 [originally 1887], 77–100) scholars from the Milesian school in Ionia were the first to conceive the world as a whole before categorising it into a northern European and a Southern Asian half on the basis of natural scientific factors (hot-cold-contrasts, astronomic observations of the different risings and settings of the sun, geometric/cartographic compartmentalisation of the world). Challenging this narrative, I intend to try to interpret the division of the world into 3 major parts as a reaction of peoples (Greeks, Phoenicians?) who dwelled in the Western borderlands of the ancient near eastern empires (Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians). They responded to an Eastern claim of world dominion, being aware of its limits in the Mediterranean Basin. The worldview of a tripartite world in the Eastern Mediterranean is therefore a response to the claim to universal rulership in light of their knowledge of the connected coastlines and hinterlands of the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. I try to prove this thesis along various ways of argumentation. First, I intend to deconstruct the consolidated modern opinion by offering a transparent exposition and analysis of the research history of this topic as well as the arguments put forward since the late 17th century. Secondly, I will present the conceptual history of terms and concepts tightly connected to the emergence of the continents ("Europe", "Asia", "Libya", "ἤπειρος", Okeanos/marratu, Phasis, Nile, Pillars of Hercules, Mediterranean and Black sea as inland seas, ...). Thirdly, I will take a look at ancient near eastern geographical texts and royal inscriptions to trace the geographical organisation and mental mapping processes of these empires that consolidate themselves as the perfectly structured continent "Asia" in the eyes of the later Greeks. Lastly, I will explore the Motivgeschichte of borders and the crossings of borders in ancient near eastern and greek texts from the 9th to the 4th century BC to interpret the division into continents via river and sea borders as a geopolitical reaction to the expansion of both, the imperial borders as well as their imperial territorial claims.


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