IAA Prize Runner-up

cammarosanoIn second place, Dr. Michele Cammarosano has won the IAA Prize for his article: “The Cuneiform Stylus”. Dr. Cammarosano is associated with the department of Altorientalistik at the University of Würzburg, where he works on the Project “3D-Joins und Schriftmetrologie” under the supervision of G.W. Müller.

Cammarosano: “My research would not have been possible without the help and advice of so many colleagues, first and foremost D. Fisseler, G.G.W. Müller and F. Weichert, fellow adventurers in the 3D-Joins und Schriftmetrologie project: to all of them go my deepest thanks!” Dr. Cammarosano’s article was published in Mesopotamia 49: 53-90 and can be downloaded from Academia.

Cammarosano summarizes his article as focusing on the reconstruction of writing techniques: “The Cuneiform Stylus originates from my experience as post-doctoral researcher at the joint project 3D-Joins und Schriftmetrologie, directed by G.G.W. Müller. My idea was to combine iconography, philology, experimentation and computer-aided analysis of wedge impressions in order to shed more light on what we know about the stylus used to write cuneiform script on clay in the Ancient Near East. Central issues in my study have been an interdisciplinary approach when addressing questions of materiality and manufacturing, as well as a thorough investigation of the complex relationship between stylus tip and wedge impression, an element which crucially affects the reconstruction of handling and writing techniques.”

But, as has been found, rejection of measuring techniques and computer methods when it comes to paleography is nothing new, and Cammarosona defends these modern types of research in his field with verve: “In 1979, the great German palaeographer Bernhard Bischoff wrote in his authoritative book Paläographie des römischen Altertums und des abendländischen Mittelalters that “Mit technischen Mitteln ist die Paläographie, die eine Kunst des Sehens und der Einfühlung ist, auf dem Wege, eine Kunst des Messens zu werden”. By doing this, he did not imagine to elicit a veritable querelle among his colleagues, with a number of scholars vehemently defending traditional “empathy” against insensitive, cold “measuring”. But Bischoff’s prophetic words had hit the mark: thanks to the possibility of accurate measurements and processing of large data sets, computer-aided methods provide us access to previously unattainable layers of information and open up new perspectives of research. Above all, they allow to replace idiosynchratic circumlocutions by numerical data, thus paving the way for a quantitative approach to palaeographic studies. This is all the more true for cuneiform, whose pronounced three-dimensional nature always represented a major challenge to proper documentation and script analysis. Research applications include computer assisted collation, join identification, manuscript reconstruction, diachronic script characterization, analysis of scribal hands, and reconstruction of writing techniques.”

That more research on scribal techniques is much needed is something Cammarosano realizes all too well: “Investigation of writing techniques and scribal habits has a long way to go, and it is very good news that the interest in this kind of research is now growing ― one may just mention the workshop Current Research in Cuneiform Paleography, convened by E. Devecchi, G.G.W. Müller and J. Mynářová at the 60th R.A.I. in Warsaw, the investigation by A. Bramanti focused on Early Dynastic evidence (CDLN 2015:012), and the discovery of alleged Hittite ‘cuneiform styli’ in Kayalıpınar, presented by A. Müller-Karpe in the frame of his lecture at the general meeting of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft in Berlin, April 24th 2015. A topic only marginally treated in “The Cuneiform Stylus” is the technique used to write cuneiform on wax(ed boards), which I’m planning to investigate in the coming months along with researches in quantitative palaeography and more traditional philological and historical studies.”

The IAA congratulates Dr. Enrique Jiménez and Dr. Michele Cammarosano with their prizes and whishes them the best of luck with their research!

The IAA thanks the committee installed to assess all entries and award the IAA prize, consisting of A. Archi, M. Roaf, J. Tavernier, and N. Veldhuis, for all their hard work.