May 2019 Exploratory Workshop in Jerusalem

In May 2019, the Einstein Center Chronoi Team and several Einstein Center Chronoi fellows visited the Landau Lab, a brain attention and time laboratory at Hebrew University Jerusalem, Israel. The Einstein Center Chronoi (EC-C) aims to facilitate a dialogue between cognitive neuroscientists and historians and archaeologists studying ancient cultures, scholars from very different disciplines who have one research aim in common: to understand how humans perceive time. In order to start a conversation on how this goal is achieved in different disciplines, the EC-C entered an interdisciplinary partnership with the Landau lab run by Ayelet Landau, assistant professor in the departments of Cognitive Sciences and Psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Ayelet Landau and her team were invited to lead a workshop on time, the senses and the brain Dynamics at the EC-C house in Berlin in November 2018. They gave an introduction to their research on time perception in the brain and how sensory processing forms a unique source of temporal information. This introduction generated many explorative questions and innovative ideas, which were elaborated on during a follow-up visit in May 2019 in Jerusalem. The EC-C team and fellows had a chance to see the Landau Lab in person and participate in several experiments on time and the brain. In addition, the EC-C team presented their material and data during a workshop, in which EC-C team and fellows, the entire Landau Lab team, and visitors from various disciplines at HUJI (e.g. psychology, linguistics, musicology, theology/early church history, ancient near eastern studies) took part.


Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Christoph Markschies gave a presentation entitled "Thoughts on Time and Distortion in Ancient Christianity", which resulted in a discussion between scholars from the above-mentioned disciplines on issues like supra-consciousness and the awareness of time, time reckoning, and synchronization of time in a multicultural society. On the second day of the workshop, Prof. Dr. Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum and Dr. Irene Sibbing-Plantholt gave a talk entitled "Time, Rhythm and Distortion of Time in Ancient Mesopotamia". The subsequent discussion allowed the attendees to combine thoughts and problems generated the day before with the newly presented information from ancient Mesopotamia.


New topics like time distortion, the difference between human time and animal time (i.e. the relationship between time perception and the human condition), time frames and the boundaries and transitions between them, and a continuation of the deliberation of the time of consciousness, were integrated in the overall discussion.


The EC-C team and fellows have been inspired by the experience and new impressions that have been brought about during this interdisciplinary collaboration, which has helped them to approach their data in an innovative way and to adopt explorative perspectives that have already lead to new insights.