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Destruction of writing: historical and transcultural perspectives 3110628902, 9783110628906, 9783110629040

Table of contents:
Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack / Destruction of writing. For a phenomenology of damage and destruction 1
Damnatio memoriae
Joachim Friedrich Quack / 'Erase his name!' On the destruction of person-referenced writing and images in ancient Egypt 43
Ulrike Ehmig / shaving in Latin inscriptions. Observations on their distribution and non-public use 103
('Massive') destruction of books
Georges Declercq / The Medium and the Message. The Public Destruction of Books and Documents in the European Middle Ages 123
Marco Mostert / Between Carelessness and Wilful Destruction. The Demise of Texts and Their Manuscripts in the Medieval West 149
Christophe Vuilleumier / From Censorship to Taboos in the 19th and 20th Centuries 167
Enno Giele / From auto dairy to shaving. Aspects of the Destruction of Writing and the Example of China 179
Destruction of writing in an administrative context
Jannik Korte / Tear up, strike through, wipe out. Destruction of demotic (and one abnormal hierarchy) legal documents 229
Konrad Knauber / Smashed seals in the medieval cult of the dead - from 'scrap metal' to symbolic act 261
Magical-ritual extinction
Adrian C. Heinrich / Perforated, burned, buried. For the destruction of inscribed figurines in therapeutic rituals from Mesopotamia (1st millennium BC) 287
Annette Hornbacher / Burning of Fonts as a Cosmological Realization. A Balinese perspective on the agency of Scripture 315
Incorporation of writing
Carina Kühne-Wespi / Drinking papyrus and eating hieroglyphics. Practices of Internalizing Scripture in Pharaonic Egypt 341
Katherine Storm Hindley / Eating Words and Burning Them. The Power of Destruction in Medieval English Charm Texts 359
Katharina Wilkens / Text as Medicine. Erasing and Drinking Koranic Verses as Therapeutic Practice 373
Destruction of writing as a literary motif
Gereon Becht-Jördens / The lost handwriting. On the motif of destruction, loss and recovery as a strategy of safeguarding tradition in Latin literature of the Middle Ages 393
Introduction of the authors 437
Index 441

Citation preview

Destruction of writing

Material text cultures

Series of publications of the Collaborative Research Center 933 Edited by Ludger Lieb Scientific Advisory Board: Jan Christian Gertz, Markus Hilgert, Hanna Liss, Bernd Schneidmüller, Melanie Trede and Christian Witschel

Volume 22

Destruction of written material Historical and transcultural perspectives Edited by Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema and Joachim Friedrich Quack

ISBN 978-3-11-062890-6 e-ISBN (PDF) 978-3-11-062904-0 e-ISBN (EPUB) 978-3-11-062989-7 ISSN 2198-6932

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivatives 4.0 International License. More information is available at Library of Congress Control Number: 2018963228 Bibliographic information from the German National Library The German National Library lists this publication in the German National Bibliography; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at © 2019 Kühne-Wespi et al., Published by Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin / Boston This book is available as an open access publication at Cover image: Latin building inscription on the podium of the excavated Roman arena of the ancient Noric capital Virunum II, licensed under the Creative Commons license "Johann Jaritz / CC BY-SA 4.0". Typesetting: Collaborative Research Center 933 (Nicolai Schmitt), Heidelberg Printing and binding: Hubert & Co. GmbH & Co. KG, Göttingen

Contents Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack Destruction of writing For a phenomenology of damage and destruction


Damnatio memoriae Joachim Friedrich Quack “Erase his name!” On the destruction of person-referenced writing and images in ancient Egypt Ulrike Ehmig shaves in Latin inscriptions, observations on their distribution and non-public use



("Massive") Destruction of Books Georges Declercq The Medium and the Message The Public Destruction of Books and Documents in the European Middle Ages Marco Mostert Between Carelessness and Wilful Destruction The Demise of Texts and Their Manuscripts in the Medieval West Christophe Vuilleumier From Censorship to Taboos in the 19th and 20th Centuries




Enno Giele From autodafé to shaving Aspects of the destruction of writing and the example of China


Destruction of writing in the administrative context Jannik Korte Tearing up, crossing out, erasing Destruction of demotic (and one abnormal hierarchy) legal documents




Konrad Knauber Smashed seals in the medieval cult of the dead - from "scrap metal" to symbolic act 261

Magical-ritual extinction Adrian C. Heinrich Perforated, burned, buried On the destruction of inscribed figurines in therapeutic rituals from Mesopotamia (1st millennium BC) 287 Annette Hornbacher Burning of letters as a cosmological realization A Balinese perspective on the power of writing


Incorporation of the writing Carina Kühne-Wespi Drinking papyrus and eating hieroglyphics Practices of internalization of writing in Pharaonic Egypt Katherine Storm Hindley Eating Words and Burning Them The Power of Destruction in Medieval English Charm Texts



Katharina Wilkens text as medicine. Deleting and drinking Koranic verses as therapeutic practice


Destruction of writing as a literary motif by Gereon Becht-Jördens The lost handwriting On the motif of destruction, loss and recovery as a strategy for safeguarding tradition in medieval Latin literature 393 Introduction of the authors Index



Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack

Destruction of writing

For a phenomenology of damage and destruction dr sx # .w = f m Hw.t-nTr Mn m pr-HD Hr Sfd.w nb r

"Erase what he wrote in the Temple of Min and also on all papyrus scrolls in the treasury!"

1 Introduction Scriptural artifacts are exposed to a variety of practices that can damage them in one form or another. The intentions, backgrounds and contexts of these practices can vary greatly, so that diverse manifestations can be observed throughout the ages in different cultural contexts, situations and discourses. In the context of book burnings - to begin with the most notorious example that seems only too familiar from the history of the 20th century - the destruction of what is written primarily expresses a rejection of the recorded content, but can also be directed against the person who wrote it 1 On closer inspection, however, completely different contexts and orientations become apparent, which attract the interest of research much less often, although they are definitely relevant: For example, the damage or destruction of written seals should either be noticed

1 As a first orientation, reference is made to Schoeps / Tress 2008 and this. 2010; see a. the contributions of Gereon Becht-Jördens, Georges Declercq, Enno Giele, Marco Mostert and Christophe Vuilleumier in this volume. Our sincere thanks go to Nele Schneidereit and Christian Vater for their support in preparing the workshop. We would like to thank Ludger Lieb and the board of the SFB for the friendly inclusion of the conference proceedings in the MTK series. We would also like to thank Jessica Dreschert and Nicolai Schmitt (editors of the MTK series) as well as Clara Ward and Philipp Wiesenbach (assistants in subproject A03-UP1) for their support in implementing this conference proceedings. This contribution is in the Heidelberg Collaborative Research Center 933 “Material Text Cultures. Materiality and presence of writing in non-typographic societies ”emerged (sub-project A03“ Materiality and presence of magical signs between antiquity and the Middle Ages ”). The SFB 933 is funded by the German Research Foundation. Open access. © 2019 Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 license.


Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack

pragmatically preventing the unauthorized use of these objects (often after the death of the seal bearer) and thus preventing the production of forgeries, 2 or invalidating the legal validity of a sealed document into the body of the user where it should develop its effect.4 These brief notes can give an impression of how broad the spectrum of forms and functions of font destruction is - and not even such everyday as low-threshold forms are mentioned, such as the destruction of writing media through negligent or improper storage (not to mention fundamentally self-destructive writing media such as modern film material or CDs) .5 At first glance, this spectrum may appear so colorful and the individual examples of writing destruction so divergent, i.e. But it seems almost impossible to recognize a conceptual order within this species diversity of the genus "destruction of writing". This is the point at which this volume and this introductory article would like to start - the latter in particular by presenting initial suggestions for the possibilities of categorizing different forms and practices of font destruction. The question is whether different forms and functions of font destruction can be identified across cultures and described in the context of individual categories. On the following pages, the multitude of facets that can be observed in the destruction of writing will therefore be subjected to a differentiated and at the same time theoretically oriented consideration. The aim is to establish a phenomenology of writing destruction based on praxeological criteria.

2 Concerning this, the article by Konrad Knauber in this volume is detailed. 3 For examples from the context of the peasant wars around 1525, see Huber 2005, 102–103; that authorities could also collect and destroy legal documents, mentioned (in connection with the Swiss Peasants' War of 1653) Suter 1997, 423. 4 This pattern of action is taken up by several articles in this volume, see for example Katherine Hindley (Practices of Medieval Magic), Carina Kühne-Wespi (Egypt) and Katharina Wilkens (Koran drinking in modern times). 5 A systematic review of the practices and consequences of improper storage of written artefacts does not yet exist. The question of the durability and archivability of such information carriers as photographs or electronic storage media is discussed above all in material-scientific and archive-related contexts. It has recently been proposed to use DNA as a permanent storage medium, see Grass et al. 2015. The website of the “German Competence Network for Digital Long-Term Archiving” (nestor), see http: //www.langzeitarchivierung, offers up-to-date material on the discussions in the field of archiving in Germany. de / Subsites / nestor / DE / Home / home_node.html (accessed on January 17, 2017). Incidentally, even premodern writing carriers can be designed to be self-destructive, as the phenomenon of “ink corrosion” shows, especially when using metal-containing inks on paper; Examples and references are available on the website of the DFG project “Inkfoss”, which was carried out from 2004 to 2007 at the University Library of Marburg, see dfgtinte / projekt (Accessed on January 17, 2017).

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to deliver. In particular, we would like to categorize these individual phenomena, in the hope of making the phenomenon of writing destruction, which is very widespread in terms of time and location, but formally and functionally very divergent, more tangible and describable. This contribution - as well as the volume as a whole - takes cultures from the period from around 3000 BC to BC to the early 21st century AD. Our main focus, however, is on practices in non-typographic societies, i.e. in cultures in which written documents were not reproduced almost arbitrarily using letterpress and comparable processes, but individually produced by hand. The individual studies on the practices of writing destruction in typographic societies as well as selected examples of post-typographic, digital phenomena, which are also collected here, are intended to expand and round off the overall picture at the same time. Such a broad version, which does not shy away from looking into the present, appears particularly fruitful to us because it enables certain phenomena of the past to be adequately grasped in their specificity. Changes in perspective resulting from different temporal foci can help to recognize the practices and their effects in their historical-cultural contingency more clearly. This applies, for example, when, from the perspective of the early 21st century, things sometimes appear to be turned upside down: In non-typographical cultures (and also in typographical cultures, right up to the recent past), a text could easily be lost because the Often the only carrier of tradition on which it took on material form, was intentionally or accidentally destroyed.6 Numerous works and texts from Greco-Roman antiquity or the European Middle Ages are known only through a single carrier, as quotations can be fragmentarily reconstructed or even lost altogether its former existence can only be inferred through indirect references. In view of these circumstances, the preservation of writers is to be interpreted as a kind of "fight against oblivion". With the recent increase in the importance of digital practices, especially in the context of the Internet, the perspective has actually turned into its opposite: In view of the possibility of easily copying data, mirroring it on different servers and therefore having it available and finding it without restriction, even the The demand for a “right to be forgotten” is formulated.7 The deletion of information in one place, however, does not mean under the current conditions that the information to be deleted would actually be removed in this way. So in a sense that is no longer that

6 This can be illustrated by the importance of the Bamberg tradition of parts of the “decades” of Livy, see for some newly discovered fragments Tischler 2000. 7 Cf. for example from a legal perspective Gstrein 2016 and Diesterhöft 2014; broader MayerSchönberger 2010.


Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack

Preserving data is the main challenge, but deleting it, which under certain conditions becomes a difficult task. The problem noted here, which inverts the long-familiar relationships, only applies as long as the systemic framework is maintained: In view of the limited shelf life of the storage media for digital data, a large-scale cultural upheaval (e.g. in the sense of a collapse of the meanwhile almost globalized civilization) is likely to follow a few centuries or even after a few decades, not much of the currently circulating amount of data will be available or accessible. This potential effect is also reinforced by the fact that not only the material existence of stored data on specific data carriers plays a role, but also the availability of highly developed technical equipment and suitable software for decoding the respective storage formats apocalyptic decline scenario. From the perspective of historically working scientists, it only seems important to us to point out the potential precariousness of the dense data network, which currently seems to be constricting us more and more. Because from the areas of work we are familiar with, with which we survey several thousand years of the development of human cultures, the possibility and the effects of such systemic breakdowns are only too clear to us.And it is precisely against this background that aspects of materiality take on a special meaning, if one thinks of stone inscriptions sunk in ruins, of reused stones that have been written on, or of papyri stored in desert regions that could survive long epochs as carriers of writing. The contrast between such, often only scarce or even fragmentary information conveying writings, but which have proven to be extremely durable, and the overwhelming information density of our digital environment, which could prove to be extremely precarious, invites us to be more systematic than before To ask about the forms, functions and effects of writing destruction. The articles collected in this volume deal primarily with cases of written destruction that in all probability actually occurred. Occasionally, however, there are also references to fictitious examples, such as those described in narrative texts, provided that they have illuminating power. This applies in particular to the ideas which, for the cultures examined, were related to the phenomenon of the destruction of writing. Charging of meaning, meaning and intentions that could be associated with acts of writing destruction within a particular culture may be found

8 In the sense of the classification by Faulstich 2012, 11–12 and 23, we are dealing here with “tertiary media” or even “quaternary media”.

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Formulated more clearly and comprehensibly in literary and fictional contexts than is the case with the available historical evidence of real acts. Fictitious cases of written destruction thus appear as a valuable addition to real practices, even though they are always to be interpreted as stylized representations in their constitution. However, their inclusion undoubtedly offers the possibility of taking into account explicit reflections that individual authors or writers in a specific culture associated with the types of writing destruction described. Since the contributions in this volume come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, terminological aspects should also be clarified in the following, especially since individual terms are occasionally used differently in different disciplines. Two basic terminological remarks are to be made at the beginning, before the attempt to typologize the destruction of writing is then attempted.

2 Preliminary terminological and methodological remarks 2.1 Damage, destroy, destroy In numerous cases it is possible to determine and record whether writing has been chiseled, burned, erased or removed by another technique, or whether it is simply faded or weathered. When using and understanding the terms that serve to provide a detailed description, there is usually no fundamental ambiguity: In the so-called damnatio memoriae, for example, names written in stone are chiseled out, a text written in ink on papyrus is erased with water to reuse the material and a document text can be crossed out after it has become null and void. The terms used easily serve their purpose in describing a particular phenomenon scientifically. As far as their application is concerned, terms that can be understood in everyday language such as “chiselling”, “combustion” or “weathering” are generally unproblematic due to their semantically limited extension. A different picture emerges, however, with the overarching terms “damage”, “destroy” and “annihilate”, which have a large semantic breadth and are intuitive to a certain extent Degrees may be perceived as synonyms.9 According to the dictionaries of the German language, these three terms relate to one another in such a way that the

9 The following considerations are based on the preliminary work in Mauntel et al. Further develop in 2015.


Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack

The title “destroy” or “destruction” in the volume that gives the title unites the meanings of the other two terms, namely “(heavily) damage” on the one hand and “annihilate” on the other hand.10 Destruction is therefore ambiguous and does not denote just one more or less severe damage, damage to the object that can render it unusable. At the same time, it can also name acts that aim to completely destroy the object and thus physically “remove it from the world”. While “damage” and “destroy” each have phenomenological referents that are relatively easy to distinguish from one another, “destroy” thus forms its hyperonym and combines both meanings.11 In addition to this, we believe, fruitful ambivalence, which is brought together in the concept of destruction However, the latter also seems to us suitable for another reason to adequately grasp the phenomena of interest here: As the following articles show in detail, it is important to consider very different forms of impairment of writing, the results of which are just as varied. While in all cases the notion of "disturbing" the written, its appearance or its validity, which is present in the concept of destruction, is expressed, the terms "destroy" or "damage" have a much smaller scope. It would hardly do justice to the scope of a complete burning of a book if one wanted to describe the act as “damaging” the book as an object. At the same time, however, it can often be observed in legally oriented contexts that although documents are “destroyed” in terms of their “validity” and their ability to be received, more or less limited “damage” to the object in question is often sufficient. In this sense, too, the overarching concept of the “destruction” of writing appears to us to be particularly suitable for developing a comprehensive perspective and typology.

2.2 Text, written material and text carrier In addition to clarifying the terminology related to the action, it is of fundamental importance for the consideration and typology of the destruction of writing to use the three levels of text12, written13 or writing (used synonymously here) and text carrier.

10 p. B. (accessed on 01/26/2017). 11 Cf. also the slightly different understanding of the terms in Mauntel et al. 2015, 735. 12 For this category, which is difficult to grasp (on closer inspection), see the results of the working group “Episteme and Text” of the SFB 933. 13 Cf. Ott / Kiyanrad 2015.

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ger14 clearly distinguishable from each other. It is true that all three sizes may be closely related to one another in the perception of the original and present recipients - and this perhaps to an increased extent in connection with phenomena of the destruction of writing - and in individual cases they may even be understood as an inseparable unit. It is precisely the overarching, theoretic view of acts of writing destruction that makes it particularly clear, as will be shown again and again in the following articles, that the procedure can sometimes only be directed against one of these levels. Almost paradoxically, the investigation of the destruction of writing can therefore also make a contribution to further sensitizing us to the differentiation between text, writing and written artifact / written carrier. To begin with the most abstract level, it should first be emphasized that a text basically represents an entity that is not bound by material: 15 As a linguistic phenomenon, it can be mentally present in the imagination, recited in the mind or recited orally from memory without writing or written or written material.16 The difference between text and what is written can be illustrated impressively, not least by means of classics of modern literature, such as Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953) or Umberto Eco’s Il nome della rosa (1980). 17 In both cases, it is a matter of texts that repeatedly take on new material form in different editions and that can change their form (layout, font, font size, even the written language) within the framework of this writing. The underlying text, however, always remains the same.18 What is written, this makes it clear, thus forms the physical form of the text, its material correlate. Object to it-

14 For conceptualization as “written artefacts”, see Focken / Ott 2016, 5–7, as well as the articles in Kehnel / Panagiotopoulos 2014. 15 The variety of possible approaches is reflected in the selected articles in Kammer 2005. Horstmann 2010, 594 defines “Text “Briefly as a“ sequence of sentences or other linguistic utterances that can be viewed as a unit. ”For the development of the term see Scherner 1996. With the question“ What is a text? ”, Within the framework of the Heidelberg SFB 933“ Material Text Cultures ”, the Working group 9 (“What is a text? On the episteme of philology”), from whose work further publications are to be expected. 16 Without prejudice to this, however, the very terminology itself already refers back to the material connection, cf. in the Medieval context the contributions in Kuchenbuch 2006. In contrast, the Greek emphasizes “logos”, although it can also refer to “the material carrier medium of writing” , at the same time stronger the immaterial character, see Scherner 1996, 105-108 (quote: 106). For the differentiation between “writing” and “writing” see Oesterreicher 1993. 17 Bradbury 1953; Eco 1980. 18 The fact that there can be editorial deviations or, especially in the case of translations, needs to be reflected in the extent to which these are not “texts” under their own law, is initially ignored in the present context; see e.g. Dathe / Makarska / Schahadat 2013 and Kittel et al. 2004-2011.


Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack

illuminates the abstract text and its content in the medium of writing and thus represents it on the level of the concrete. Especially in connection with the destruction of writing, the text carrier plays a special role, i.e. the material basis of the writing process, on which the possibility of preserving the concrete materialization of the text depends not least of all. Depending on the characteristics and affordances19 of the material, a multitude of different effects can be observed, which can radically deviate from the intentions behind the original act of affixing the writing. The example of texts carved in stone is literally particularly weighty: In the premodern era, the material of such writing carriers, which were reused as components in different contexts, was often valued. In this way, texts or parts of texts in younger buildings could survive the times (and acts of destruction), although they themselves were probably perceived as irrelevant or not even considered. At the same time, this example makes it clear that the material of the text carrier also determines the way in which a text can experience intentional or unintentional destruction: In order to remove a font carved in a stone block, completely different procedures are necessary than those used to remove in Ink-applied writing on papyri or parchment. On the other hand, stone inscriptions can be exposed to weather conditions due to their placement, which counteract their durability. Ultimately, it becomes clear that numerous different practices, uses and behaviors are associated with the various materials that were and are used as writing carriers, each of which calls for an exact analysis of the individual case. For the time being, however, it should suffice to state that text, writing and writing (or artefact bearing in writing) represent three sizes that can be clearly distinguished from one another. Correspondingly, in the context of interest here, the destruction of writing can also be oriented differently, either targeting the text and the content or speakers associated with it, or affecting the text carrier (both of which can be closely linked in variable ways). If, for example, the Egyptian Setne story describes how the protagonist burns a papyrus roll, dissolves it in water and drinks it, then this case of the destruction of writing is only directed against the writing support as a material correlate of the text. The intangible side of what is written, namely the abstract text (or its content), should not be destroyed, but rather pass into the body of the protagonist and develop there.20 The opposite is the case with a damnatio memoriae: through destruction of the written down

19 For the term, see briefly Fox / Panagiotopoulos / Tsouparopoulou 2015. 20 See the article by Carina Kühne-Wespi.

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With a name, the text content, in this case the named speaker, should also be damaged. In many cases, however, the text carrier is only slightly damaged and should be preserved as a witness to this damnatio memoriae.21 Ultimately, the abstract text with its content, the written as the physical form of the text, and the text carrier, which is the material basis, apply of the written forms to be conceptually separated from one another. With a view to the destruction of writing and writing, one must always ask anew which of these dimensions is in the focus in the individual case, not least in order to illuminate the intentions of the actors in each case.

3 types of font destruction The types of font destruction are basically divided according to very different principles: They could be classified according to the act of destruction (erase, burn, chisel, etc.), according to the degree and extent of the destruction (slight damage to destruction without residue of the material) or typology according to the destroyed text carrier (papyrus, books, inscriptions carved in stone, etc.). All of the components of the destruction of fonts mentioned here are undoubtedly relevant and should be taken into account in the following considerations. In our opinion, however, they are not suitable as a superordinate classification criterion, since they start at a level that threatens to get lost all too much in the details of the practices. Instead, we would like to suggest using the real or ascribed intention to destroy the font as an overarching criterion at a top level of structure. If one adopts this perspective, four central categories of font destruction quickly emerge, which can be classified according to the increasing ideological charge (or attribution of meaning): 1. Accidental font destruction and font destruction due to negligence; 2. Intentional destruction of the writing due to the irrelevance of the writing (possibly for the secondary use of the writing medium); 3. Intentional destruction of writing to develop the purpose of what is written (e.g. in magical practices); 4. Intentional destruction of the writing with the explicit intention to destroy (especially aimed at the text (content)). These four categories are presented and discussed in more detail below.

21 On the practices of damnatio memoriae and their analysis, see the article by Joachim F. Quack; for the persistence or developments in the European Middle Ages see Lori Sanfilippo 2010. See also, thematically reaching out to processes of memory deformation, Scholz / Schwedler / Sprenger 2014.


Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack

3.1 Accidental destruction of writing and destruction of writing due to negligence “The thirst of mice does not quench wine.

In the epoch-spanning and cross-cultural investigation of the destruction of writing22, all in all cases of intentional destruction of writing attracted attention: Spectacular acts of book burning by the official church23 or the destruction of documents in revolutionary contexts24 are more conspicuous for understandable reasons and at the same time offer one detailed cultural-scientific analysis more fruitful access possibilities than moments of accidental font destruction, especially if this occurs out of sheer negligence.With regard to the affected amount of the perished tradition, however, it can be assumed that the last-mentioned effect, which at first glance does not seem spectacular, should be at least as serious, if not even stronger, than the prominent acts of intentional destruction of writing.25 Although the meaning ( In the double sense of the word) this quantitatively important phenomenon is particularly difficult to grasp, since it is hardly possible to make reliable statements about the order of magnitude and the respective backgrounds, it should definitely be taken into account in a typology that strives for completeness. In contrast to all other cases to be discussed, accidental font destruction and font destruction due to negligence share the property that they are not intentionally caused: In particular, events and processes that ultimately (directly or indirectly) are to be described by people are to be described as accidental font destruction which, although not primarily intended to destroy the font, accepted it. In such cases, the destruction of writing occurs as a "side effect" of otherwise oriented actions and events - among other things, war events such as bombings and arson, which are not primarily directed against written and written artefacts, but nevertheless also written certificates, archives and artefacts are to be considered

22 For further literature see Mauntel et al. 2015; The articles in Engels / Martens / Wilkin 2013 focus beyond the scope of the destruction of writing on acts of destruction in general. a. Werner 2007; cf. in the present volume the contributions by Marco Mostert, Georges Declercq and Gereon Becht-Jördens. 24 Numerous references in Mauntel 2015. 25 For obvious reasons of the source problem, however, it is hardly possible to make reliable quantifying statements. See Esch 1985, however, with a methodological perspective.

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Libraries can affect libraries to a devastating extent.26 As the example of the Cologne City Archives showed in 2009, 27 similar events and consequences can also be observed outside the context of war. The destruction of writing as a result of negligence is closely related to the accidental destruction of writing: The focus here is on natural processes, i.e. events not caused by human hands, from which the writing medium is not sufficiently protected, so that over time it is damaged by damaging environmental influences. Egyptologists who deal with papyri, for example, are familiar with insect damage as the cause of many gaps in the text in the sense of the destruction of writing; 28 in later periods too, writing carriers were repeatedly destroyed due to the presence of insects or rodents that feasted on parchment .29 It is not uncommon for archives to have been damaged by water, as a certain Djehutimes wrote in a letter to his family from the 11th century BC. Chr. (Egypt) laments (even if in this case, according to his statements, the writing was not lost) .30 In addition, there is the natural erosion of inscriptions carved in stone, the mold infestation of organic writing materials as a result of moisture, the font decay due to drought, but also the modern, careless handling of ancient written documents and the use of unsuitable conservation methods. Such examples, the list of which could easily be extended, make it clear that the accidental destruction of writing as well as the destruction of writing due to negligence are often largely based on the ignorance of how the written can be better preserved.31 In view of these diverse, non-intentional influences on Written documents that could lead to its destruction are confronted by the members of all 26 For example, the holdings of the Bibliothèque municipale in Lille in northern France were severely decimated by a fire on April 23, 1916 at the time of the German occupation in the First World War, which was probably due to an accident is to be considered, see Westeel 2005, 37. The example of the library in Löwen, which opened on 25./26. August 1914 was set on fire and destroyed by the German troops, see Schivelbusch 1988, 17–19. Further examples from the recent past could be added to this, such as the destruction of libraries in Baghdad as part of the so-called Iraq war of 2003 or the events surrounding the famous collections in Timbuktu, which were threatened by Islamist fundamentalists in 2012-2013; see briefly Schüller-Zwierlein 2014, 42–44; English 2017 (Timbuktu) as well as the contributions by Enno Giele and Christophe Vuilleumier in this volume. 27 See the contributions in Schmidt-Czaia / Soénius 2010. 28 Cf. Lieven 2016. 29 A well-known example is the family tree of the Billunger, Welf and Ascanians from a codex that was created in the St. Blasius Abbey in Braunschweig around 1300, which was affected by mouse feeding (today Lower Saxony State Archives Wolfenbüttel, VII B Hs. 129, here 47v), see Schneidmüller 2003, 139–142. 30 We are talking about Papyrus BM 10326. For the hieroglyphic inscription of the letter see Černý 1939, 17–21 (especially 8-19), for a translation see Wente 1967, 37–42 (especially 38). 31 We would like to thank Stefan Holz (Heidelberg) for pointing this out.


Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack

In literary cultures and epochs, the question of how what is written can be adequately protected from the disintegration of the medium of writing has repeatedly been raised. The answer options vary and depend on completely different parameters, among which the materiality of the writing material also plays an important role. In addition, the storage location and its properties also play a decisive role (climatic conditions, accessibility of the rooms, etc.). An inscription carved in stone is a good way to permanently record a text over many generations and to protect it from dangers such as insect damage, water damage and, to a certain extent, from fire. As a carrier material, metal can also guarantee a very long service life for the writing applied to it under favorable conditions. For short-lived typefaces, paper and papyrus are sufficient, provided they can be adequately protected from water and insect damage.32 Although the accidental destruction of typefaces is characterized by the fact that it occurs either as a side effect of human activity or precisely due to the failure to act (e.g. in Sense of the commitment to a careful placement of the writing carrier), it is nevertheless suitable as a basis for literary stylization. The possibilities of developing corresponding effects as motifs and using them narrative in texts with at least partially fictional character can be demonstrated using the example of Latin literature of the Middle Ages.33 For example, the description of the retrieval of a once lost document, which is mostly old and corresponding Validity is attributed, and the subsequent renewed loss by accidental destruction serve to ascribe a higher age and greater authority to younger documents, which were supposedly based on this lost artifact. A certain blurring results for the category outlined here in the case of “deliberate negligence”, as can be seen in the Balinese traditions, especially in rituals to protect the house: Some of these rituals provide for textiles to be affixed to the outside of the house where the document has been weathered over the years by wind and weather and is supposed to symbolize the slow, natural decay of the house at the same time. At

32 Questions of this kind about the preservation of scriptures should be relevant in every script culture and of course also affect the context of private living environment. In modern western societies today, archivists and conservators in particular are entrusted with the task of preserving written material as experts and are therefore confronted with the challenges of this to a particular extent. For brief insights into the types of material mentioned, see for example Kiyanrad / Lougovaya / Sarri / Trampedach 2015 (metal), Balke / Keil / Opdenhoff / Stroth 2015 (stone) and Meyer / Sauer 2015 (paper), as well as the other articles on wood, clay , Parchment, papyrus, wax and human skin in Meier / Ott / Sauer 2015. 33 See the article by Gereon Becht-Jördens in this volume.

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Renovations, the old document is replaced by a new one, thereby renewing the protection of the house.34 As these examples show, the view of accidental destruction of writing opens up a wide field: even if (or because) the resulting effects are not explicitly committed by people against written documents directed acts of destruction result, as they were perceived as particularly problematic in many contexts - and in fact had particularly serious consequences. This can be seen not least from the fact that strategies have been developed in different cultural contexts to counteract this problem. The use of the motif in literary contexts also shows a high degree of awareness for this area.

3.2 Intentional destruction of writing due to the irrelevance of what is written - Et tes livres? - M’en fous, des livres. Je les trouve dans les poubelles. Ça va retourner dans les poubelles, c’est tout. (Pablo Raúl Espinosa, Tropiques barbaren, Saint-Denis 1012, 159) “But let's face the fact: some books are just rubbish. [...] And if I throw them into the waste paper and thus into the natural cycle, then I can live with them very well. "(Rita Pohle, Get rid of it! The manual: How to clear out your life and home, Kreuzlingen / Munich 2009, o. S. (e-book))

As the term already makes clear, forms of intentional destruction of writing are associated with the explicit intention of destroying writing. How exactly this intention and the associated attitude of the human actors concerned are aligned remains open for the time being: the intention to act can be negative towards what is written and thus primarily aim at the destruction as a result; However, it can also be aimed at liberating what is written (or the content of the written text) from its material bond and thus helping it to develop in a spiritualized sense. In this case, the intention towards what is written would ultimately be positive, since the intention to destroy only aims at the concrete, materially bound document carrier.

34 Briefly mentioned by Hornbacher 2014, 26; See her contribution in this volume in more detail.


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In contrast to these two orientations, which are discussed in more detail below, numerous acts of intentional destruction of writing are not explicitly ideologically charged by the actors themselves, but are largely pragmatically motivated, so that they approach the text in a neutral or indifferent way In other words, we are dealing here with cases in which writing is intentionally destroyed because it is classified as irrelevant and the respective actors attach more value to the material medium than to what is written. In short: writing can be partially or completely destroyed for further use of the material - i.e. for pragmatic or economic considerations.36 This category of writing destruction postulated by us, which results from the (real or perceived) irrelevance of the written, is from a methodological perspective not unproblematic. While current examples or those of the more recent past seem even more accessible to interpretation, cases from more distant epochs usually resist clear interpretation. In particular, it is difficult to clearly conclude from the material remains that the irrelevance could have been the movens behind the destruction of the writing. This is all the more so since corresponding meta texts that would explicitly justify the destruction of writing with the irrelevance of the written are largely missing from the premodern era.37 This means that the factor of irrelevance on which we base this category of destruction of writing appears fundamentally as a modern-analytical ascription. A selection of relevant examples should make it clear, however, that this attribution is a methodically controlled finding that can be established on the basis of the praxeological (although not necessarily on the basis of the material) context. Probably the clearest examples are the ancient wax tablets (and those that were also used later on): short-lived texts could be recorded on these writing media for a short period of time, only to be erased afterwards to make room for new texts to be written. In the case of wax tablets - as well as blackboards in the modern school context - the destruction of what is written is the defining element in the praxeological program, which is aimed at saving or reusing material as soon as the writing of a text has fulfilled its function and is therefore irrelevant has become 38

35 The fact that indifference to certain objects naturally has an (at least implicit) ideological charge in turn is at least mentioned here. Nevertheless, it seems important to us to differentiate this from the expressly valuable actions. 36 Cf. Bolle / Theis / Wilhelmi 2015, 724–726 on the practice of “reuse”, for which they identify economic, ideological-political, spiritual, decorative and practical reasons. 37 At least we have so far not been able to find meaningful passages. Of course, this does not exclude future finds. 38 See also Bolle / Theis / Wilhelmi 2015, 723–724.

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A very widespread phenomenon in ancient Egypt is the re-inscription of a papyrus sheet: If a text, primarily from the administrative area, had served its purpose and its content had become irrelevant due to its volatile character, it was deleted so that the papyrus carrier material could continue to be used could be. Similar practices are also known from the European Middle Ages when it came to the reuse of parchment: The text written on the parchment was scraped off so that the material could serve as a writing medium for a new text. Sometimes it can be observed that pagan texts have been replaced by Christian ones, for example by saints' lives. To infer the deliberate destruction of ancient pagan texts from this, as earlier research did, is probably wrong: 39 Instead of deleting the older works with an expressly negative intention, we must rather assume that the deleted texts are simply viewed as irrelevant so that the writing material was pragmatically prepared for the new use, namely for the writing of texts that were now considered to be significant.40 In both cases - on papyrus as well as on parchment - what was originally written is mostly completely lost and only weak Remnants of characters or a flat gray discoloration of the carrier material can provide clues to the original text (s ).41 The process of waste paper is based on a similarly economically based idea: This ambiguous term is intended here to refer to the secondary use of labeled paper and parchment for reinforcement understood from book covers 42 As part of this practice, inter alia Liturgical manuscripts that became irrelevant in the Middle Ages and the early modern period because obsolete liturgical manuscripts were destroyed, 43 without paying greater attention to what was written - the texts on the fragmented pages can still be read today and, in some cases, several fragments can be put together. The example of labeled papyri, which were used in Egypt for the manufacture of cardboard packaging in the Greek and Roman times, is comparable in terms of the procedure and effects. The papyri were folded or cut into a suitable shape, regardless of the loss of text, and then put together in several layers.

39 S. just under Karpp 1993, 1641. 40 See in particular the contribution by Georges Declercq in this volume. 41 In the meantime, however, more recent techniques sometimes allow approaches that appear revolutionary, see Knox / Easton / Christen-Barry 2008. For non-invasive methods of reconstructing the content of papyri that have not been unrolled, see e.g. Bukreeva et al. 2017. 42 For relevant examples, see Neuheuser / Schmitz 2015. We are grateful to Peter Rückert (Stuttgart) for referring to this volume. 43 In addition, the introduction of the Reformation in many places in the 16th century led to the spoiling of large manuscript holdings because the Catholic liturgical works were no longer needed, see Sect.for example the exhibition “Musical Fragments” at the Stuttgart Main State Archive, online: (accessed on March 19, 2018), as well as Traub / Miegel 2013.


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glued (sometimes with additional layers of stucco and linen) and used to make coffins, mummy boards or mummy masks.44 Both cases have in common that what is written - in contrast to the material - is no longer given any value and the procedure is aimed entirely at secondarily utilize the material of the text carrier. The writing can be preserved, whether in the book cover or in the cardboard box. The same process can also be transferred to the reuse of labeled stone blocks under the name "Spoliation". The effect with regard to the writing is somewhat different in those cases in which inscribed artifacts made of valuable metal were melted down in order to make new objects from them: Here too, the actors concerned assess the material as more relevant than the inscription, so that the destructive Influence on the writing occurs primarily as a non-ideologically upgraded side effect of the economically and pragmatically motivated material extraction and reuse.45 However, the melting down of the metal inevitably leads to the loss of the written (at the same time the source problems are particularly serious here, as the Evidence of what artifacts previously consisted of this material will be lost). The extraction of material should therefore undoubtedly be regarded as the most important motive that led to the intentional destruction of the writing due to the irrelevance of the writing. In addition, however, another important aspect must be taken into account, which plays a decisive role in archives: the acquisition of space. In view of the ongoing collection activity in archives and libraries, which leads to the ever increasing growth of the stored holdings, the provision of sufficient space is an omnipresent challenge, regardless of the type of object being kept. Not least in specialized facilities for the storage of written material, i.e. in libraries or archives, the practice of sorting out books that are outdated or too damaged (waste) or destroying files has been developed in order to gain space.46 Under certain circumstances, this has also been the case in recent times it can still be observed that the allegedly pragmatically motivated destruction of certain files to gain space was actually due to ideological or political motives in the selection 44 Fackelmann 1985; Graf / Krutzsch 2008. 45 The contribution by Konrad Knauber in this volume shows that the material can also have a symbolic meaning. 46 It should be emphasized here, however, that it is one of the principles of modern archiving that holdings that have been recorded in the archive are not destroyed - rather, an assessment by the archivist takes place before the takeover by the archivist, in which the Archival value of the relevant holdings is decided. As a result of this process, written materials are on the one hand destroyed, but on the other hand (through a process of cutting aisles) constructively editable and quasi-definitive knowledge is produced, see Menne-Haritz 2001, 451.

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the affected written carrier is determined - especially from the point of view of historical research a serious problem that can lead to correspondingly controversial disputes.47 Incidentally, saving (memory) space can of course also affect digital texts, as is the case with many users of private computers or others electronic devices from everyday life will be familiar. Finally, as a separate type of font destruction, the perhaps less well-known modern practice of spoiling, which is also economically motivated, should be mentioned. The term describes the process by which books, which from the point of view of the respective publishers can no longer be expected to be economically beneficial, are withdrawn from the market and "pulped ".48 Intentional destruction of writing, which is based on the fact that what is written is not relevant ( more), but can also have reasons that lie outside of economic-pragmatic considerations. The relevant actors can nevertheless be quasi 'neutral' towards what is written, so that their actions and omissions cannot be interpreted as (explicitly) ideologically charged.49 This framework includes corrections and shaves that affect smaller areas of a text: under a correction The correction of spelling mistakes is to be understood, which can be done on papyrus by erasing and rewriting a certain point, on paper by erasing - and is also possible with inscriptions carved in stone. The idea of ​​“correcting” what has been written can also be observed to a certain extent in the case of shaving, with which shorter passages of the writing are erased, for example by scraping the relevant parts off a parchment or chiseling out of a stone inscription.50 So that these practices in the However, it is crucial that the acts in question are not carried out in the sense of a damnatio memoriae, i.e. with the "hostile" intention of eliminating the relevant content from the world. In the cases discussed here, the intention is rather to read the content of a written text, such as

47 See the contribution by Christophe Vuilleumier in this volume. 48 See generally Hiller / Füssel 2006, 214 or Delp 2017. For spoiling in the context of libraries, see Busse et al. 1999. Estimates of the number of books that are annually destroyed in this way can be found in an article by Gregor Dolak from 2001 ( kunstmuell-auf-der-kippe_aid_190862.html ; Accessed on April 13, 2018); see also another contribution by Nikolaus OrteuTel from 2012 (; accessed on April 13th) . 2018). 49 However, these processes are by no means completely “free of ideology”, as the examples given in the text show: A correction of the orthography at least expresses that a certain value is ascribed to the “correct” text - and the same applies to whatever type of "correction". The example of the Carolingian practice of correctio, but especially Charlemagne's striving for “unambiguity”, shows the relevant charges, see Weinfurter 2013. 50 p. The contribution by Ulrike Ehmig in this volume.


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for example an inscription to update or to correct evident errors - for example by adapting the text to a reality that has changed since it was originally written. A monument from Roman times can serve as an example, which according to the preserved inscription was originally donated by a "widow". That term was chiseled out, however, in all likelihood after the woman remarried. The term “widow” had thus become incorrect and her former social status also seemed irrelevant - at least the word no longer described the real situation of the founder and was consequently deleted.51 Finally, the phenomenon of the reallocation of objects in the category discussed here is also likely to be located. As can be seen, for example, from the grave goods of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, many of the objects collected here were originally labeled with a different name, i.e. belonged to a different owner or were intended for someone else. When the decision was made to use them for Tutankhamun's grave furnishings, the earlier names were deleted and overwritten with that of the new owner, Tutankhamun.52 Such an act, in a first step, expresses an update of the conveyed ownership structure and is therefore of one damnatio memoriae, as the originally named owner should not suffer any express discrimination or other damage in such cases.

3.3 Intentional destruction of writing in order to develop the purpose of the writing "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." (Obi-Wan Kenobi on Darth Vader, Star Wars, Episode IV) “I ate them like salad, books were my sandwich for lunch, my tiffin and dinner and midnight munch. I tore out the pages, ate them with salt, doused them with relish, gnawed on the bindings, turned the chapters with my tongue! " (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451)

Significantly located in the magical-religious area53 and are quantitatively documented significantly less often in the traditional sources compared to the other categories

51 The example is discussed by Ulrike Ehmig in this volume. 52 This case study was presented at the workshop by Manon Schutz. See, for example, James 2000, 226-227, and Reeves 1995, 168-169. 53 On the problems of clearly distinguishing between “magical” and “religious” practices, see Kieckhefer 1990, as well as Marrone 2015 and Otto 2011.

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Acts of the intentional destruction of writing, which combine the physical destruction of the text carrier with the "development of power" or "release" of the writing. In these cases, which provide particularly rich material for reflecting on the prevailing notions of nature and the relationship between text, writing and writing, the destruction of the written in its material bond should lead the text to its purpose, for which it was specifically was written. In the context of magical practices in particular, this orientation often includes the thought of a "release" of the text or of the spirit bound in it, which can or should become effective in this way. One of the practices that can often be observed within this category is the internalization of what is written, with the aim of transferring written content into the body of a person, where it is then to develop its effect. Examples of such procedures, which are based on the fact that a specific power is ascribed to the “spirit” of the text, which can be activated by taking on its material correlate in the form of what is written, can be found in different cultural contexts. In the so-called First Setne story from ancient Egypt, it is described how one of the protagonists writes a magical text on a papyrus, burns it, dissolves the ashes in water and then drinks so that he can benefit from the magical abilities described in the text , can actively make use of it.54 In another case, in the context of an Egyptian king's ritual, Pharaoh is presented with a certain hieroglyph made of bread, which he is supposed to eat without giving anything to anyone else, in order to understand the meaning of the character - namely “royal office “- to take in and embody it.55 Similar practices can also be observed in the Muslim world (and indeed over the ages) when patients take verses of the Koran dissolved in water to cure illnesses.56 As they are mostly used in Medieval discussion come very briefly, 57 it should be emphasized at this point that also in the European Middle Ages he - and well into modern times - analogous practices are documented, which testify to the high effectiveness of writing as a material correlate of powerful texts. In very different temporal and spatial contexts,

54 We are talking about Papyrus Kairo CG 30646. For images of the demotic text see Spiegelberg 1906, Plot XLIV to XLVII; Vinson 2018, 322–354, for a translation see Hoffmann / Quack 2018, 146–161 (esp. 151). The example is discussed in the article by Carina Kühne-Wespi. 55 We are talking about Papyrus Brooklyn 47.218.50. For the hieroglyphic transcription and a translation see Goyon 1972 (especially 72) and the latter 1974 (especially pl. XI). The example is discussed in the article by Carina Kühne-Wespi. 56 See the contribution by Katharina Wilkens in this volume. 57 We are all the more grateful to Katherine Hindley for her willingness to make a relevant contribution at our invitation.


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find games that all too often make it clear how precarious and problematic the distinction between religious and magical beliefs and practices is. In the medical field in particular, there is evidence that formulas and texts of the religious canon (prayers or biblical quotations) as well as apparently senseless expressions of unknown origin could be used to heal diseases: multiple sources attest to the writing of prayers on hosts that should then be taken to heal the sick person, sometimes accompanied by additional prayers that had to be performed orally.58 With a comparative look at the practices of “drinking the Koran” that still exist today, an exorcistic text is also particularly noteworthy first recommends writing a cross and the beginning of the Gospel of John on parchment. Then the writing should be scraped off again and mixed with holy water to be consumed.59 In the Anglo-Saxon “Leechbooks”, high medieval collections of medical prescriptions and advice, appropriate recommendations are repeatedly encountered: For example, it should help against fever, the beginning of the Gospel of St. places a strong emphasis on the active effect of the (spoken) word, writing on a paten (a plate-like vessel on which the host is placed during the Eucharist), washing the scriptures with holy water and taking them accompanied by prayers Continuation of such approaches are then encountered well into modern times forms of everyday “written magic”, which could play an important role in connection with pregnancy and obstetrics, among other things.61 Another popular variant of such practices is represented by the so-called “Schluckbildchen”, the especially in the Neuze it and sometimes up to the 20th century can be proven: These are small pieces of paper with religious motifs, but often also parts of text that should be eaten for the purpose of healing.62 A practice that appears in an anonymous treatise is even more ambivalent has been handed down about the power of certain deans of the zodiac. Accordingly, the name of the demon associated with the second dean of Aquarius can be found if one looks at an example in Kieckhefer 1990, 70, and Skemer 2006, 127, 137 and 256 f. (With further references to literature and sources). , and Moreno Martínez 2015, 25 (a Catalonian example from 1639). See also Eckstein 1929/1930, 1055–1058, and Schulz 2003, 112. For a detailed study, see the contribution by Katherine Hindley in this volume. 59 Kieckhefer 1990, 74. 60 Cockayne 1864-1866, Vol. 2, 137; see ibid., Vol. 3, 11/13. 61 S. Lengyelová 2005, 129; on “everyday magic” in the early modern period, see Edwards 2015 in total. 62 Cf. just under Brauneck 1978, 297; Dungl 2008, 133-134; Würgler 2013, 115. An example from the 2nd half of the 17th century is offered by a sheet of so-called Schluckbilder, today kept in Cologne, Museum Schnütgen, Inv. From 2037 (copper engraving on verge paper, 151x91 mm); see Beer / Rehm 2004, p. 9 f., Fig. 1. We would like to thank Ms. Manuela Beer (Cologne) for her kind advice.

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writing it on glass with the juice of a certain plant and washing it off with wine, lead to the fact that whoever drinks it goes insane. The name of the demon of the third dean of Aquarius, on the other hand, is said to be able to reverse the process if it is written on glass with the juice of the basil root and washed off with wine.63 The “Testamentum Salomonis” gives as a magical practice in connection with the second dean of cancer that one should write a formula on seven bay leaves, wash them off and sprinkle his house with water; then a certain dangerous demon would move away.64 In this case, the essence of what is written is not internalized by a person through drinking, but is more or less absorbed by the walls of the house. When considering the processes discussed here, one may initially hesitate to include them under the heading of “writing destruction”, 65 since it is primarily about a kind of transformation process that the immaterial size of the text undergoes.At the same time, it seems important to us to note that in many of the cases addressed here, the material correlate of the text, namely the written (and sometimes also the written material), is very well destroyed, even though the text itself is imagined by the actors as remaining intact and is merely being The carrier medium changes from the material writing to the human body. From the etic perspective of the outside observer, a process of physical-material "writing destruction" is taking place here. In the background of all the examples we know of, there is the belief in a specific effectiveness of writing, which can take on religious as well as magical traits.66 Of particular interest is the paradoxical notion, which is hardly ever explicitly formulated but clearly emerged in the analysis, that content and the effect of what is written are not impaired by its material destruction, but rather set free so that they can unfold. In addition to the above-mentioned forms of internalization of writing, there are other practices in which the destruction of writing has no explicit "intention to remove", but rather is also intended to serve the "development" or "release" of what is written: In the context of funerary rituals in Bali, the body of the deceased is burned, after substances were also placed on his body, which symbolize different aspects of his identity through their inscription. The burning of the body and these written symbols serves to release what has been written and to return the body to its macrocosmic origins.67 Although it does not result in an internalization of what is written 63 Gundel 1936, 390. 64 Busch 2006, 225. 65 This also represents Körte 2012, 233, firm. 66 On the European Middle Ages, see Schreiner 2000. 67 Hornbacher 2014, 323.


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comes in the real sense, but here too the pronounced proximity of what is written to the body, with which it is disintegrated together, is striking.

3.4 Intentional destruction of writing with the explicit intention to destroy "[...] some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. "(Alfred Pennyworth to Bruce Wayne in Batman: The Dark Knight)" (What) every man on earth who will erase these words written below (as to): The gods, who live here will completely erase his name and the name of each of his men! ”(Demotic graffito Medinet Habu 228, probably Ptolemaic)

Finally, it is still important to discuss what is probably the most prominent category, which is commonly associated with phenomena of "writing destruction" and which, like the type just discussed, testifies to a strong charge of the phenomenon of writing with assignments of meaning: What is meant are cases in which an explicit intention to destroy can be shown, which is directed in particular against the text and its content, but sometimes also against the author. In contrast to what one might initially assume, this category is also phenomenologically very heterogeneous. In most cases, the intent of the acting actors to destroy is directed primarily against the content of the written text and accepts the damage or the complete destruction of the text carrier. In addition, there are also examples of the fact that the act of destruction is not directed against the written itself or the content, but against its ongoing writing. This can be seen, for example, in the rendering of seals unusable, which in the European Middle Ages could occasionally be placed in the grave of their deceased bearers. Here it must be proven several times that the seal - and thus also the text belonging to the seal image - was intentionally damaged. The interpretations of this act can vary: on the one hand it may have symbolically symbolized the death of the former seal-bearer, on the other hand it pragmatically prevented the illegitimate future use of the seal. In both variants, however, the aim is not to get rid of the text itself, which, for example, ascribed certain titles to the owner of the seal, but rather its specific form of writing in a specific framework.68

68 See the article by Konrad Knauber in this volume.

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The range of such approaches and ideas can be illustrated by a comparative look at philosophically and religiously founded views and practices: In the case of the destruction of seals just mentioned, the legitimacy of the use of writing was by no means fundamentally questioned, but only the validity of what was written Siegel ended symbolically and practically. At the other extreme of the spectrum we can observe how the writing of certain texts is rejected for fundamental considerations that are by no means directed against the individual text itself: Plato's critical attitude towards the medium of writing is known from the history of philosophy his use of the dialogue form played a role. In view of the increasing importance of writing and books, the philosopher seems to have been of the opinion that true knowledge and the transfer of knowledge are ultimately only possible in the medium of spoken language and lively dialogue.69 Against this background, the use of writing for transmission was actually prohibited philosophically relevant knowledge. From a religious point of view, analogous forms of scriptural criticism encountered in early Islam, among other things, with regard to the question of whether the sayings of the Prophet (ḥadīṯ) should be transmitted in the medium of script. The different attitudes and practices ultimately led to books being destroyed in a number of cases in the Islamic world.70 Here, too, the fundamental criticism of the medium of writing played a role if it was feared that religious texts in particular would be transmitted incorrectly or falsely could. In this respect, some of these acts of destruction were in no way directed against a specific text as such, but rather against its medial version.71 In addition to such fundamental special forms of attitudes towards the medium of writing in general, there are numerous and highly variable cases of destruction of writing, which are expressly directed against specific texts and their content - and what they have in common is that they want to "get rid of the world". This is most impressively expressed by the book burnings, as they were already practiced in Greco-Roman antiquity, but also in the European Middle Ages or - particularly notoriously - during the “Third Reich ”.72 Contrary to the first impression, these highly symbolically charged files stand out among other things, the question of their real efficiency, because only in

69 Erler 2006, 84–87, Harris 2009, 47–52, and Schlieben-Lange 1994, 104–105. 70 p. In particular Cook 1997 and Melchert 2014. Melchert refers (ibid., 213) to a study by Omar Ali de Unzaga that is in the making, but which has probably not yet been published; see a. Fierro 2014, 129. 71 According to Cook 1997, 482, this “oralism” represented a dominant position in the early days. 72 See the contributions by Christophe Vuilleumier, Enno Giele and Marco Mostert in this volume. On (Christian-religiously motivated) book burnings in late antiquity see Rohmann 2016.


Carina Kühne-Wespi, Klaus Oschema, Joachim Friedrich Quack

In some cases, the executors succeeded in destroying all copies of a script. In fact, in the majority of the cremations, this was probably not the intention of the actors at all, since the focus was rather on the striking statement of the ritual act of public cremation.73 Therefore, often only the burning of a few specimens was staged and in this way the destruction , the “getting out of the world” of the thoughts and ideas recorded in the text. In this sense, the intention to destroy is not directed against the books as an object per se, but rather against the ideas and texts they contain and, under certain circumstances, their authors, for whom the burned works can stand. Instead of harming the author himself, it can be concluded in a large number of cases that his or her book is burned in effigy as a substitute.74 Umberto Eco stages an interesting fictional variant of intentional destruction of writing in his novel “Der Name der Rose ”(1980): In the multi-layered plot, the blind monastery librarian Jorge von Burgos represents a central figure who acts in the background over long passages. The plot is located in an Italian Benedictine abbey and the fatal entanglements that arise here are ultimately due to Jorge's efforts back to hide a work, the content of which he would like to keep secret for reasons of faith: The manuscript in question contains the second book of Aristotle's Poetics, believed to be lost, in which the author speaks of the comedy. Jorge now fears that the reading could not only make the reader laugh, but that this laughter would be given a legitimacy by the authority of Aristotle, on the basis of which the laughing people could ultimately lose their fear of God and the devil. In order to keep this dangerous work secret, Jorge uses a means that testifies to his radically ambivalent attitude: Far from destroying the handwriting (i.e. the "written artefact") himself, he soaks the pages with a poisonous tincture so that those who turn the page and occasionally put your fingers in your mouth, gradually poison yourself and die. The text itself, what is written, is thus initially retained and accessible, but the knowledge that has passed into the mind of the reader through the act of reading is destroyed again in a very short time by the reader's death - in reverse of our actual topic, the writing is, as it were, destroyed here their readers. Only when things come to a head does Jorge resort to the most radical means: he completely eliminates the book: he destroys the manuscript by devouring it; as a result of an accident, the entire library goes up in flames. The ingenious construction of Ecos offers a fascinating object of analysis, as in this fictional representation

73 S. on this v. a. the contribution by Georges Declercq in this volume. 74 See also the article by Gereon Becht-Jördens in this volume.

Destruction of writing