International Workshop: Quality and Quantity

Approaches to humans and nature in an interdisciplinary dialogue


The aim of the RTG 1876 is to study early concepts of humans and nature based on written, iconographic, or archaeological sources from a region encompassing the ancient Near East, the Mediterranean, and Europe, during any period from 100 000 years B.C.E. to the Middle Ages. Thematic areas cover concepts of basic elements, world formation, natural phenomena and catastrophes, flora, fauna and the environment, as well as concepts of body, illness and medicine.

Because a broad range of disciplines (Pleistocene Archaeology, Ancient Asian studies, Egyptology, Byzantine studies, Classics, Medieval German) is involved, interdisciplinarity is naturally required. Therefore, the standard methodologies used in the humanities (history, philology, archaeology, visual approach) are applied, but they are supplemented by different models, ideas and methods from other disciplines such as social history, economy, psychology, computer science, anthropology, biology, botany, zoology, or chemistry. These different approaches can be conveniently subsumed under the categories of qualitative-interpretative and quantitative-numeric methods.

It is the aim of this workshop to discuss the role of qualitative and quantitative approaches within disciplines of ancient studies and to determine their range and limits. Both approaches in our view do not form a polar opposition but work together to achieve productive new results.

The workshop will among others try to focus on the following questions:

  • Where and how do quantitative and qualitative approaches and methods play a role in understanding
    concepts of humans and nature?
  • How do these methodological approaches influence the models, images and concepts that different sciences form in order to explain humans and nature, and what impact do they have on the cooperation and communication of the individual disciplines?
  • What is the potential and where are the limits of applying both quantitative and qualitative methods to
    the understanding of humans and nature, as, e.g., in discourse- or network-analysis?