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Measuring Value and Accomodating the Gods: Abstracting from the Material in Ancient Cultures

Projekter: ProjektForskning

  • Dietrich, Jan (Projektleder)
  • Frevel, Christian (Projektleder)
  • Schaper, Joachim (Projektleder)
  • Berlejung, Angelika (Deltager)
  • Jursa, Michael (Deltager)
  • Körting, Corinna (Deltager)
  • Moreno Garcia, Juan Carlos (Deltager)
  • Nihan, Christophe (Deltager)
  • von Reden, Sitta (Deltager)
  • Seaford, Richard (Deltager)
  • Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Leipzig
  • University of Vienna
  • University of Hamburg
  • French National Centre for Scientific Research
  • University of Lausanne
  • University of Freiburg
  • University of Exeter
Se relationer på Aarhus Universitet


This network project brings together scholars to explore the relationship between economic measurement systems and religious ideas in the region of the ancient Fertile Crescent and ancient Greece, in the period from ca. 3500 to 350 BC. The human ability to measure and value things increased greatly in this area and period of time. Our newly established network aims at exploring the relationship between the material world and the religious ideas by looking at how measurement and valuation systems evolved in the economic sphere and paved the way for new (religious) ideas, e.g., the ancient Egyptian “weighing of the heart” as gateway to the Beyond, the Near Eastern sun-god as a god of justice, able to “measure out” in a justifiable manner, the biblical way of abstracting from the sacrifice’s inherent material value, or the early Greek philosopher’s search for the one principle of creation. As these examples may show, we are especially interested, on the material level, in the invention and developments of the standardisation of measurement of size, weight, and value, and, in terms of religious ideas, in the modes of abstraction and symbolization that expanded upon these economic measurement- and value-systems and thereby also may have paved the way for the invention of new forms of economic exchange, like, e.g., the invention of money. Modern money is an accepted token without (much) intrinsic value that is assumed to represent a general form of measurement and exchange-value for all kinds of goods and obligations. We do presuppose as one of our research ideas, however, that there do exist pre-monetary forms of reciprocity to be found in forms of ritual and sacrifice in the ancient Fertile Crescent which form the basis for the invention of standardized means of exchange, i.e. of “market metal” in the ancient Near East, and of money in classical Greece. A first workshop in February 2018 was funded by the School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University, and the period 2019-2021 will be funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark.
Effektiv start/slut dato01/09/2017 → …

ID: 129068773