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BMBF Funds Collaboration with Philipp Stockhammer

Mar 12, 2015

What did the early Celts use Greek pottery for? A collaboration of researchers from Baden-Württemberg will study Greek ceramic imports and their meaning for the early Celts in their project “BEFIM – Meanings and Functions of Mediterranean Imports in Early Celtic Central Europe”. BEFIM was awarded almost 1.3 Mio. € by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) until 2018. It is directed among others by Dr. Philipp W. Stockhammer (Heidelberg).

What was the reason behind the importation of large numbers of feasting dishes and wine amphorae from the Mediterranean to the early Celtic regions north of the Alps between the 7th and 5th century BC? For a long time, researchers explained this southern import as the desire of Celtic elites in Southwestern Germany, Switzerland and Eastern France, to imitate Mediterranean feasting practices. The researchers of BEFIM question this notion. They analyse how Celtic communities used these Mediterranean imports north of the Alps – whether they really wanted to imitate Mediterranean feasting practices or in contrast, whether they used these foreign objects as part of their own local practices. They will apply a combined multidisciplinary approach to assess the archaeological context of the imported vessels with use wear analysis of their interior surfaces, and characterisation of absorbed lipid residues which may reveal traces of foods and beverages consume in the past. This will enable them to understand how foreign and local vessels were being used by the local elites and other groups of the population. Hence, was for example, Mediterranean grape wine being consumed from these drinking vessels, or was locally produced honey mead? BEFIM focuses on those transformative processes, in which formerly foreign objects become part of one’s own cultural traditions, perhaps taking on different functions and new meanings. Intercultural encounters have always had a crucial transformative power – not only in the present, but also in the past – and objects from afar had an essential role in these dynamics.

The BEFIM collaboration is directed by Philipp W. Stockhammer (Heidelberg University) together with Cynthianne Debono Spiteri (University of Tübingen), Dirk Krausse (State Heritage Authority Baden-Württemberg) and Thomas Hoppe (Landesmuseum Württemberg). It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) in the framework of the funding focus “The Language of Objects”.

Dr. Philipp W. Stockhammer is head of the project MC8.2 "Innovation Management" at the Cluster "Asia and Europe" and Junior Fellow at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies.

Visit the project website


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