Hans-Joachim Gehrke (former president of DAI, University of Freiburg, Germany)

Historical scholarship is focused on questions of time and change, and particularly interested in studying continuity and rapid changes. Using Jan Assmann’s concept of cultural memory, I am going to show the strategies societies of a certain complexity use in order to create continuity: How do they achieve this, and where and how do they fail? My examples are the culture of Ancient Egypt, the far reaching changes around 1200 BCE, and the transfer of the Roman Empire from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, a process which has an impact even on contemporary history (especially if one looks at the formation of Europe). A closer look on these features may enable us to gain a better understanding of the preconditions for the storing of documents.