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Joachim Friedrich Quack Awarded Germany’s Most Prestigious Research Prize

Press Release No. 306/2010
7 December 2010
Prof. Dr. Joachim Friedrich Quack awarded research prize of the German Research Foundation
Prof. Dr. Joachim Friedrich Quack
Prof. Dr. Joachim Friedrich Quack

Prof. Dr. Joachim Friedrich Quack, director of Heidelberg University’s Institute of Egyptology, is a recipient of the 2011 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize awarded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The distinction has been conferred on a scholar referred to by the DFG as “one of the internationally most renowned German Egyptologists.” The award – Germany’s most prestigious research prize – is endowed with 2.5 million euros, which Prof. Quack can use to finance future research activities. His intention is not only to intensify his work on late Egyptian papyri, but also to systematically improve the education of upcoming young scholars in his field. “I regard this award as a great honour,” Prof. Quack said. “For me, it is a spur to invest all my energy in getting my current research projects ready for publication.”

On the decision to award the Leibniz Prize to Prof. Quack, the German Research Foundation writes: “Intimately acquainted with all stages of ancient Egyptian civilisation and the evolution of the Egyptian language, he has specialised above all in the later periods of its history, notably the Graeco-Roman era. In traditional Egyptology, this era had long suffered from relative neglect, so there was formerly little appreciation of its rich heritage and its significance for other sectors of ancient studies.” The text goes on to applaud Prof. Quack’s achievement in casting light on a whole era of Egyptian cultural history and in delineating its fascinating otherness and historical significance. Another groundbreaking achievement noted is the research work leading to the reconstruction of the “Book of the Temple”, a crucial document in Egyptian religious history. On the basis of only two papyri, Quack was able to track down and collate dozens of manuscripts scattered all over the world. At present he is working on an annotated edition of the work.

Joachim Friedrich Quack (b. 1966) studied Egyptology, Semitic studies and biblical archaeology at Tübingen University. A study sojourn took him to Paris in 1988/1989. After completing his Magister course, he started work on his PhD in 1991 with support from the German National Academic Foundation. At the same time he embarked on an additional course in ancient Oriental studies and proto-history and ancient history. After completing his dissertation in 1993 and teaching in Tübingen, he was awarded a DFG study grant that took him to Copenhagen in 1995/1996, where he spent a year working for the International Committee for Publishing the Carlsberg Papyri. In 1996/1997 he received a DFG research grant to enable him to reconstruct the “Book of the Temple”. From 1997 to 2002 he was a research associate in the Department of Egyptology at the Free University of Berlin, where he completed his Habilitation “Contributions on the Egyptian Decans and their Reception in the Graeco-Latin World” in 2003. Subsequently he was awarded a Heisenberg Grant by the DFG. In 2005 he succeeded Jan Assmann as professor of Egyptology in Heidelberg and in 2009 became a full member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Among Prof. Quack’s main research interests are the language, literature and religion of ancient Egypt, with special reference to the exploration of hitherto unpublished texts from the archives of Egyptian temples in the Roman period. Within the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, he coordinates the research project “Medical Systems in Transition: The Case of the Ancient Near East” in collaboration with ancient orientalist Prof. Dr. Stefan Maul. Their inquiries revolve around the extent to which the societal status of various medical systems is influenced by political and economic factors over and above their therapeutic efficacy. The first stage of the project is dedicated mainly to the initial exploration of hitherto unpublished or inadequately represented sources. With ancient historian Prof. Dr. Christian Witschel, Prof. Quack also heads the “Oriental Cults” Cluster project, which centres on religious exchange processes and the dissemination of cults in the Roman Empire. In the framework of the “Ritual Dynamics” collaborative research centre, he is in charge of “The Variation of Tradition” project. This research venture devotes its energies to establishing the extent to which Egyptian ritual texts underwent substantial changes in the course of what were often millennial traditions and how they were consciously adapted in specific temple versions.

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize has been awarded annually by the DFG since 1986. The Foundation has named ten scientists and scholars – four women, six men – as Leibniz Prize winners for the year 2011. Prof Quack is the only recipient from the humanities/social sciences. The presentation of the award will take place in Berlin in March next year.


Prof. Dr. Joachim Friedrich Quack
Institute of Egyptology
phone: +49 6221 542532

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