University of Bamberg Welcomes its First Double ERC Recipient
Historian Peter Riedlberger secures an ERC Consolidator Grant of 2 Million Euros.
Due to the rigorous selection procedure, the minuscule chances of selection and the extraordinary requirements for successful candidates, European Research Council grants are considered the most prestigious individual research awards. The University of Bamberg has previously acted as the host institution to two ERC Starting Grants of roughly 1.5 Million Euros each. These are now joined by Bamberg’s first ERC Consolidator Grant of approximately 2 Million Euros. The grant was awarded to Peter Riedlberger, who, quite exceptionally, had already obtained an ERC Starting Grant in 2015.
Bernd Sibler, the Bavarian Minister of Science and the Arts, congratulated Peter Riedlberger on this remarkable achievement: “Research conducted in Bavaria is broad in thematic scope, and it is characterised by excellence and a pioneering spirit – which is also true of the humanities. The award of the ERC Consolidator Grant for a research project on the history of Late Antiquity makes this quite clear. The University of Bamberg, with its distinctive profile in the humanities, is an example of the high standing of classical subjects at our universities. The work and expertise of scholars like Dr. Dr. Dr. Riedlberger make a significant contribution to Bavaria’s international visibility as a home to leading scholarship. Congratulations on this great achievement!” In acknowledgement this outstanding achievement, University President Prof. Dr. Kai Fischbach says, “We share in the delight of our colleague Peter Riedlberger and offer our sincerest congratulations on this extraordinary success. The two ERC grants are an impressive reassertion of the University of Bamberg’s strength in the humanities.”
Top-Down Communication through Legal Texts
Beginning next year, the ERC Consolidator Grant will enable Riedlberger and his research team to investigate late antique constitutions. During Late Antiquity (ca. AD 300–600), legislation occurred in the form of “constitutions.” These texts fail to conform to our modern expectations for laws: rather than being concise, clear, and easily comprehensible, they are composed in challenging, rarefied prose. Furthermore, these verbose documents hide their legal core in the thick of a rambling text. “This peculiar situation becomes even more enigmatic when we consider that many of these texts were distributed using a sophisticated system which delivered them to even the smallest hamlets where they were often both publicly posted and read out”, explains Riedlberger. “In a world devoid of television or newspapers, the freshly arriving constitutions provided arguably the most important connection to the wider world.” One might expect their contents to be “propagandistic,” as their means of distribution meant that via these texts, the emperor could quite directly reach a large body of his subjects. However, this is not the case. Instead of glossing over problems, several emperors preferred a candid approach, admitting that barbarian attacks were indeed to be “feared” or that an earlier law was wrong.
Bamberg, a Hot Spot for Late Antique Studies
“The University of Bamberg is the ideal host for my grant, both in terms of research and of administration,” observes Riedlberger. He expresses his gratitude for the personal trust and support shown by the university’s governance, which greatly facilitated his work. “For late antique studies, Bamberg is one of Germany’s hot spots,” adds Riedlberger. He explains that late antique studies are exceptionally strong in Bamberg: “Hartwin Brandt, one of the foremost scholars of Late Antiquity, is the Chair of Ancient History, and there is a highly proficient classical philology department to boot.”
In addition, the department of archaeology is specifically distinguished by top-notch research on late antique remains, and the patristic theology programme is one of only a handful which still teaches antique eastern languages. The one-of-a-kind Institute of Archaeology, Heritage Sciences and Art History, as well as the Centre for Medieval Studies, provide the crucial links to the subsequent period. He also specifically praises the Third-party Budgets and Human Resources departments, and the Research Funding and Transfer division, which went out of their way to support him in his earlier grant.
Peter Riedlberger, born in Aichach in 1973, studied ancient history in Munich, Freiburg and Paris. In 2009, he completed a PhD in Latin Philology at the CAU Kiel, in 2012, he received a doctorate in the History of Sciences from the LMU Munich, and in 2019, he obtained a third PhD in Law. Following work and research positions in Munich, at the Warburg Institute in London, in Tel Aviv and at the University of Tübingen’s Faculty of Law, he has been conducting his research at the University of Bamberg since 2015. He was awarded an ERC Starting Grant in 2015 and has now received an ERC Consolidator Grant in the 2020 competition.
– ERC Consolidator Grant for Dr. Dr. Dr. Peter Riedlberger, who was previously awarded an ERC Starting Grant in 2015
– Funding totalling approximately 2 million Euros, 2021–2026
– Research on late antique legal texts
Dr. iur. Dr. phil. Dr. rer. nat. Peter Riedlberger
Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften und Europäische Ethnologie