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Heidelberg Ancient Historian Awarded Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize

Press Release No. 56/2010
19 March 2010
Distinction for outstanding research in late antiquity
Dr. Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner
Dr. Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner

Dr. Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner, ancient historian at Heidelberg University, has been awarded the 2010 Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize by the German Research Foundation. The award, endowed with 16,000 euros, is regarded as the highest distinction for young academics in Germany and is conferred on young researchers with outstanding credentials and a unique academic profile. Dr. Schmidt-Hofner works at the University’s Department of Ancient History and Epigraphy.

The German Research Foundation (DFG) points out that Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner is “one of the most promising young academics in the field of ancient history and has earned himself an outstanding international reputation.” The selection committee for the award goes on to note that his doctoral dissertation made a fundamental contribution to the study of late antiquity. In it, the historian examined legislative texts in a broader socio-political context, thus paving the way for a wide variety of interpretations of this vital source material. At present, Dr. Schmidt-Hofner (33) is investigating spatial organisation in the cultures of ancient classical Greece. His research work is the first to draw systematically on the methods of modern spatial sociology in studying ancient societies.

Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner (b. 1977) received a grant from the German National Academic Foundation to study classical philology and ancient history in Munich, Oxford (UK) and Marburg. In 2005 he received his doctorate from Marburg University. After a period spent working as a managerial consultant, Dr. Schmidt-Hofner joined Heidelberg University in 2006 as an academic assistant. His main research interests include the history of late antiquity, the 4th century in particular, statehood and the genesis of the state in the Roman Empire, late-Roman law, and spatial concepts and their socio-cultural conditions in the world of ancient Greece. Together with colleagues working in the same field, he heads the international “Centralisation and Particularism in Late Antiquity” network and also coordinates the “Spatial Organisation, Norms and Law in Historical Cultures of Europe and Asia” project at the “WIN-Kolleg” for young academics funded by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

The Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, named after the nuclear physicist and former President of the German Research Foundation, is awarded every year to six young academics. The prize monies of 16,000 euros each are provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). This financial support is designed to enable the recipients to carry on with their academic research. Dr. Schmidt-Hofner was chosen for this year’s Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize in the course of a two-tier selection process examining a total of 104 proposals. The presentation ceremony takes place in Bonn on 20 May 2010.

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Dr. Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner
Department of Ancient History and Epigraphy
phone: +49 6221 542238

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