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The Book of the Temple: A Sensational Reconstruction

31 August 2007

Heidelberg Research Magazine "Ruperto Carola 2/2007” with title story by Egyptologist Joachim Friedrich Quack — Paper chase on a worldwide scale — Manual valid for centuries in ancient Egypt describes in detail what the ideal temple should look like

Scholars are usually reluctant to use the word "sensation”. But there really is no other term to describe the result of a world-scale "paper chase” and the painstaking work done on the pile of ancient fragments it produced. It is the reconstruction of a manual valid in ancient Egypt for many centuries that describes in detail how the ideal temple should be built and operated. Never before has a text like this been discovered and edited. It is the subject of the title story of the Heidelberg research magazine "Ruperto Carola 2/2007” by Egyptologist Joachim Friedrich Quack.

Joachim Quack studied Egyptology, Semitic studies, Biblical archaeology, ancient Oriental studies and prehistory/protohistory in Tübingen and Paris. His doctoral dissertation was on the subject of "The Maxims of Ani”. As a lecturer at the Department of Egyptology of the Free University of Berlin he then completed his Habilitation thesis entitled "Studies on the Egyptian Decans and their Reception in the Graeco-Roman World”. In 2005 Quack became professor of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg after receiving a Heisenberg fellowship.

The other articles in the new magazine cover a wide range of subjects from library science and psychosomatics to molecular biology and cancer research.

Student Fees: A Suitable Subject for the University’s Research Magazine?

This is the question addressed by vice-Rector Silke Leopold in the editorial. Leopold proceeds from the fact that the legislator has left scope for interpretation in issues posed by the distribution of revenues from student fees. "The Heidelberg distribution model, elaborated by a Senate commission, is based on two principles: decentralised resource responsibility and student participation in decision-making. The latter goes far beyond normal student clout in university bodies,” Leopold says.

Only about 5 percent of the resources from student fees are awarded centrally and on a competitive basis, the rest – minus a small sum for administration — is passed on to the University departments. Recommendations about what the resources should be spent on are made by department commissions in which the students hold the majority. The decisions made by these commissions have to be passed with a two-thirds majority.

After the first round of allocations it has already become apparent "how great the creative potential of this decentralised distribution model really is.” The wide range of study courses have very different priorities in what they need to improve teaching conditions at their respective locations. These extend from additional microscopes, temporary teaching posts and tutorials to longer opening times for libraries and excursions. In addition, "student fees represent a substantial support programme for the regional economy and a remarkable in-house job machine,” Leopold continues.

"Questions like where the line is to be drawn between teaching manuals (eligible for purchase from the resources) and research literature (not eligible?), whether a digital projector is part of a department’s basic equipment (not eligible) or serves the improvement of teaching conditions (eligible?) need to be resolved quickly on the basis of ongoing accumulated experience,” Leopold insists. This requires not only a highly discerning and responsible approach but also control and evaluation mechanisms, not least because too dogmatic a distinction between research and teaching would be in clear contradiction to the ideals on which universities are based. "So student fees are definitely a suitable topic for a research magazine.” (Leopold)

A library for the world

The recovery of the Bibliotheca Palatina by means of research and technical progress is the subject of the article by Elmar Mittler. About 3,500 manuscripts and 5,000 prints belonging to the Bibliotheca Palatina were spirited away from Heidelberg to Rome in 1623 as "spoils of war” in the course of the Thirty Years War. Today the main holdings of this "mother of libraries” are still to be found in the Vatican library. The major exhibition on the occasion of the six-hundredth anniversary of the University of Heidelberg in 1986 displayed some of the immensely valuable specimens from these original holdings In the meantime, the prints of the Palatina have been restored in the form of a microfiche edition and at present the German manuscripts are being digitised, an ambitious project designed to make these writings available to the entire scholarly world. Elmar Mittler was director of the Heidelberg University Library from 1979 to 1990 and head of the Lower Saxony State und University Library in Göttingen up to 2006. As chairman of the Consortium of European Research Libraries he is at present working on the compilation of a complete catalogue of European library holdings published before 1830.

When pain no longer hurts

What happens in the body when people cannot feel even the severest injuries? In the new magazine Iris Klossika, Christian Schmahl and Martin Bohus explore this issue. Some people respond to external stimuli with pathological over-sensitivity. Others feel no pain whatsoever even when they cut deep into their skin with a razor-blade. This kind of self-mutilation is typical of the "borderline” syndrome, a severe mental disorder. Both over- and under-sensitivity to pain pose a fundamental question. What is it exactly that interferes with the pain processing mechanisms in the body so profoundly as to completely upend normal pain perception? An answer to this question will enhance our understanding not only of the borderline syndrome but also of pain itself. Iris Klossika is a psychologist at the Hospital for Psychosomatics and Psychotherapeutic Medicine belonging to the Central Institute of Mental Health (ZI) in Mannheim. Christian Schmahl is a senior consultant at the same hospital. Martin Bohus accepted the appointment to the chair of psychosomatic medicine at the Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg at Mannheim in 2003. He is now in charge of the hospital referred to above.

The grammar of life

A collection of words can only become a sentence, and ultimately a text, if the author observes the rules of grammar. If this is indispensable for verbal communication, does the same apply in the realm of biology? Are there universally valid rules adhered to by nature in creating living cells and ultimately multi-cellular organisms from individual molecular components? Scientists at Heidelberg University’s Centre for Molecular Biology are studying a simply organised bacterium – Escherichia coli – as a model system for learning the grammar of life. The researchers have already identified one important principle – minimum effort for maximum effect. Victor Sourijk’s article provides a readily comprehensible introduction to this venture for the general reader. Since 2003 he has been in charge of an independent research group at the Centre for Molecular Biology. In 2006 he received the Young Investigator Award from EMBO.

New strategies in the treatment of liver cell cancer

Though liver cell cancer is one of the most frequent tumours worldwide, it has so far remained an "orphan disease” because only a small number of scientific studies have investigated it in any detail. The basic research work now being done on the disease sheds light not only on the way these tumours form and the causes for their formation, its findings also indicate new molecular targets for medicinal agents, thus increasing the prospects for a systematic assault on a disorder that has been difficult to deal with in the past. Author Peter Schirmacher has headed the University of Heidelberg’s Institute of Pathology since 2004. Prior to that, he worked at the Institutes of Pathology of the Universities of Mainz and Cologne, as well as the Albert Einstein College, New York. Among the distinctions he has been awarded is the Boehringer Ingelheim Prize (1997).

In the section "Young Investigators Report”, Roman Luckscheiter gives an account of "Franco-German Literary Relations”, indicating that the ongoing quest for a European identity also poses a challenge to literary studies. Luckscheiter is a lecturer and researcher at the Department of Germanic Studies. "Can quality be measured?” is the question addressed by vice-Rector Peter Comba in the "News and Views” section of the new issue. "We need indicators enabling us to compare the standing of the University of Heidelberg with that of other universities like Mannheim, Tübingen, Munich, Paderborn, Oxford, Bologna and Stanford,” he contends, going on to describe how the University of Heidelberg has devised a form of quality management unprecedented in Germany. He also discusses objective misgivings levelled at the project.

"Ruperto Carola” is published by Universitätsverlag C. Winter Heidelberg GmbH. Single copies cost € 5 plus postage. Like the special subscription offer (€ 30 for four issues) they can be ordered from: Pressestelle der Universität Heidelberg, Postfach 10 57 60, D-69047 Heidelberg. Gratis copies of earlier issues are available in the entrance area of the Old University (Grabengasse 1).

For more information and the complete articles of earlier issues (in German) go to

Please address any inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317
Editor: Email
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