Research Center Ancient Worlds Studies and Archaeologies (AWOSA)


Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Robert Rollinger (Institute of Ancient History and Ancient Orientalistic Studies)

Deputy Heads

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Christian Heitz, MPhil (Institute of Archaeology)

Research Objectives

In 2008 the University of Innsbruck established the “Zentrum für Alte Kulturen” convening disciplines and departments in one single building that shared a common engagement in the study of Ancient Worlds and their Archaeologies. From the very beginning a joint and major issue of research was the investigation of trans- and intercultural contacts as well as cultural transfers and hybridities. Many of the scientists and researchers hosted by the “Zentrum für Alte Kulturen” have been active participants in the Research Area “Cultural Encounters – Cultural Conflicts”. This engagement has also been exemplified by the laboratory “Historicity and Materiality” (Historizität und Materialität) that is part of the above mentioned Research Area. All these activities have now become an excellent starting point for intensifying contacts and furthering collaborations that will contribute to establishing the new Research Centre AWOSA.

One of the major strengths of the Research Centre AWOSA is its interdisciplinary diversity and wide range. It combines the disciplines of archaeology, history and philology, uniting the fields of Greek and Roman Studies, Ancient History, Ancient Near Eastern Studies and their respective Archaeologies that range from Prehistoric and Ancient Near Eastern to Classical, Provincial Roman, and Medieval and Modern Era Archaeologies. This demonstrates not only the impressive scope of AWOSA´s research agendas but also the far-reaching nature of its geographical, chronological and intellectual ambitions. In its unified diversity the Research Centre engages with Antiquity in its broadest sense. It transcends the traditional boundaries of the scholarly disciplines as they have been established in the 19th century. It underlines and highlights the multiple aspects of connectivity that unite Ancient Worlds (both prehistoric and historic ones). It makes use of new methodological concepts on approaching and studying ancient cultures. It shares the Research Area´s “Cultural Encounters – Cultural Conflicts” seminal understanding of culture as “a dynamic system that creates and defines meaning” and that the dynamics involved “are viewed as sources of creativity that can give rise to something new, but can also cause conflicts, including violence and war”. 

Central geographical areas of research are the Mediterranean and the Middle East as regions of connective entanglements with areas to the North (Central and Western Europe) and East (Central Asia as far as China and India) with whose cultures there had been dynamic interplay. In this way a major aim is to overcome traditional concepts of Eurocentrism, Ancient Worlds are no longer to be seen narrowly as precursors of a Western-European history but in their own right as an essential part of a globally connected World History. This is not to deny the broad range of influence and impact the Mediterranean and Ancient Near Eastern Worlds had on Western European History; this subject remains an important research agenda, as it is demonstrated, e.g., by the Research Centre´s research groups dealing with Neo-Latin Studies, Prehistoric and Modern Archaeologies or the broad field of reception history. However, Ancient World Studies and their Archaeologies are not restricted to these important fields of research. 
The trajectories of Ancient Near history to the Islamic and Central Asian History are as important as those to the West and North. Gender History, Empire History, transcultural contacts within the Mediterranean-Middle-Eastern framework and beyond are topics of universal interest and overcome the widespread reduction of Ancient World Studies and their Archaeologies to Classical Studies, which allegedly only attain importance as part of a WesternEuropean heritage agenda.

Thus, the interdisciplinary nature and diversity of the Research Centre AWOSA offer a new understanding of Ancient World Studies. By collaborating and sharing a common research focus, the Research Centre faces the many challenges of a globalized world of the 21st century CE. It places Ancient Worlds and their Archaeologies within the contexts of a multi-faceted globalized world and contributes to better understand the present times by rigorously and systematically analyzing their interconnected pasts.

Affiliated Organisational Units

To be announced shortly.

Homepage of the Research Center

To be announced shortly.