Professor Christian Mann Receives “Opus Magnum” Fellowship of the Volkswagen Foundation for Research Project on Professional Athletes in Ancient Greece

The Volkswagen Foundation has awarded the “Opus Magnum” fellowship to the Professor of History for his book on ancient sports and social history (in German: “Antiker Sport: eine Sozialgeschichte”). The fellowship includes funding for a substitute, who takes over the duties at the chair for three semesters.

In his “Opus Magnum” (Latin for masterpiece), Mann aims to answer basic questions on the athletes competing in combat sports, running, long jump and throwing. To which social class did they belong? What were the promotion aspects for successful athletes? How were the athletes organized and what was their social standing? The main focus is on ancient Olympic Games as well as many other competitions in ancient Greece between 700 BC and AD 500. Mann aims, in particular, to explain the importance of athletic competitions in societal exclusion and integration processes. In general, athletic competitions were a domain of the citizens but in many cases, women and even slaves participated as well. 

The fellowship allows Mann to have a substitute taking over his position from February 2023 until July 2024 so that the Professor of History can fully focus on completing his book. PD Dr. Julia Hoffmann-Salz, Freie Universität Berlin, will take over Mann’s duties during this time.

The project is part of the research on ancient sports, a field in which the University of Mannheim is a key player. There is a website on the University of Mannheim’s research on ancient sports, which gives an overview on the research activities (in German).