Stephan Matthiesen

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An e-book reader as a mobile research library?

Is an e-book reader a suitable tool for carrying your research library with you? Like most scientists, I have a large collection of research papers (as PDF files) and want to have them with me, so that can read when I'm on the bus, in a café, waiting for a lecture to start, or in the evening in bed. At conferences or meetings, I often want to look up details or show a figure to a colleague. Here are my experiences using an e-book reader: in short, it didn't work. Instead, an inexpensive tablet computer is a better choice.

Were the Mausoleum and funeral of Augustus designed and manipulated for political reasons?

The Mausoleum of Augustus, which was built in 28 BC, was one of the major buildings erected by Augustus Octavian. Given that Octavian was a shrewd politician, who was able to play the power games of his time very successfully, one would expect that he designed his Mausoleum not only because he needed a decent family tomb, but that the building also served a political purpose.

The Japanese Encounter with the West in the 1850s and 1860s

After 200 years of almost complete seclusion from the rest of the World, in 1853 Japan was suddenly thrown into turmoil by the appearance of Commodore Perry with his “Black ships” in Uraga, threatening military action if negociations to open the country were not started immediately. The decades to follow were probably some of the most turbulent in Japanese history, with Japan transforming from a “medieval” feudal state(1) to a modern nation that soon became one of the leading industrialized states of the World. How did this transition happen?

How important was trade for Troy?

The investigation of antique trade links has become rather fashionable in recent years. However, while archaeological methods can clarify the question which goods were exchanged between which cultures, it is by no means clear whether such an exchange of goods is to be interpreted as evidence for “trade”, nor is it even obvious what exactly we mean by the term “trade” when we use it to describe ancient societies.

Oriental and mystery cults in Pompeii

The archaeological evidence in Pompeii can give us some information about oriental or mystery cults, mainly the cults of Isis and of Dionysos. There are different types of archaeological sources which differ in the kind of information they can provide us with. Paintings and mosaics give us an pictorial impression of some aspects of the religious live and therefore help to complete written sources. Their interpretation, however, is often not without ambiguities. Furthermore, the architectural remains, in particular the size and design of buildings related to religious ceremonies, can give us background information about some sociological and economic aspects, e.g. how widespread certain cults were.

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