The JGU Collections at a glance

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is home to about 30 special collections. The University Library initiated a collections project in 2012. The first task is to document and coordinate the individual collections. It is the intention of the University Library to act as coordinator. A collections community will be created and centralization on a virtual level is also planned. Until this project has been finalized, JGU Magazine will be publishing occasional articles providing insight into some of these collections.


A piece of writing from the Clemens Brentano Collection of the Mainz University Library (photo: Peter Pulkowski) CLEMENS BRENTANO COLLECTION

The mouse, the poet, and the dance

The Clemens Brentano Collection provides intimate insights into the life and world of one of the greatest German Romantic poets. Along with hundreds of examples of lively correspondence, there are drafts of poems and household plans, outlines for dramas and drawings. The collection, which was acquired by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in 1950, is housed in the Mainz City Library.

Pfirsichkerne der Archäobotanischen Vergleichssammlung (Foto: Thomas Hartmann)THE ARCHAEOBOTANICAL REFERENCE COLLECTION

The essence of all things

The largest object is a peach stone lying next to cereal grains, tiny grape pips, and the seeds of wild herbs. At first glance, the Archaeobotanical Reference Collection of the Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology division at the Department of Ancient Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) seems anything but impressive. But as Dr. Margarethe König begins to tell of the stories and history that form its background, it is becoming more and more interesting.

Among the Egyptology Study Collection at Mainz University is this altar piece showing Seti I offering a sacrifice of wine to the goddess Hathor. (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) EGYPTOLOGY STUDY COLLECTION

From the Holy Water of Horus to Akhenaten's pot belly

Some 30 exhibits are witness to 3,000 years of history. They tell of gods and pharaohs, of raising poultry, of magic water, and of unusual fashions. The Egyptology Study Collection at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) may be small, but it offers a lot of material for learning and teaching, for discovery and discussion.

Model of the Tower of Babel (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY COLLECTION

The Tower of Babel in the basement

Hardly any other collection of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) can boast as many unique pieces. Models represent life in Biblical times, ten thousand photos and valuable maps document the early history of Israel while seven ossuaries evidence a turning point in burial practices at the time of Christ. The Biblical Archaeology Collection may be relatively new but it goes way back into ancient history.

A look into the Indian Bronze Collection (photo: Peter Pulkowski) INDOLOGY COLLECTIONS

Buddha's nose and good fortune

The collection is small but impressive: the bequest of Ursula Walter has found a home at the Institute of India Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Indian gods and Buddhas, various everyday objects, and fine votive offerings for the temple can be found here. Part of the collection is on display in the Philosophicum building, but most of it languishes in a nondescript gray metal cabinet at the institute.

Medical-historical injection equipment (photo: Dagmar Loch)MEDICAL HISTORY COLLECTION

When the life awakener was used to fight arthritis

There is a small but fine collection of various historical medical objects in the library of the Institute of History, Philosophy, and Ethics of Medicine of the Mainz University Medical Center. Professor Norbert W. Paul knows his way around here. The Director of the Institute tells some of the stories that lie behind the exhibits.


A journey through 470 million years of plant history

There is hardly any other place at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) that is as inviting to relax or take a stroll as the Botanic Garden. However, it is much more than simply a recreational facility. The garden is a place of research and teaching while it also provides a storehouse of rare plants, which is the largest of all the collections present on campus.

(photo: Peter Pulkowski) MATHEMATICS COLLECTION

Number games for the young

The purpose of the 'Hands-on Mathematics' ('mathematik begreifen') exhibition is to help school students better understand the world of numbers. Through play, youngsters are encouraged to discover the Pythagorean theorem, plan routes crossing all of Germany, and experience the wonder of the brachistochrone curve, the special effects of which are here demonstrated in the form of ball rolling tracks. Dr. Ekkehard Kroll of the Institute of Mathematics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is in charge of the exhibits, which need a new home.


History in skulls

Over the past three years, PD Dr. Holger Herlyn of the Institute of Anthropology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has assembled a modern teaching collection of replica skulls that document the development of human beings and their relationship to other primates. The exhibits in the collection's display cabinets are ready to be investigated by the probing hands of the students.

Roman coins were often palm-sized. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)COIN COLLECTION

Roman small change was rather big

Although the coin collection of the Department of History's Ancient History division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) fits into a single vault, it still holds quite a few surprises – at least for the layperson. Huge Roman coins sit beside ranks of imperial representations. Alexander the Great and Cleopatra can be admired here in silver, gold, and bronze.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)HERBARIUM

The collection is growing and growing

The herbarium at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is hardly known – although it includes a number of rare plants and fungi, some of which are still awaiting proper classification. In addition to the extensive array of fungi and plants native to the Rhineland-Palatinate region and gathered from the Mainz Sand Dunes nature reserve, there are also exotic specimens from Costa Rica and Rwanda. Dr. Gudrun Kadereit shows what the herbarium has in store.

Mussels of the genus Glycymeris from the Mainz Basin, ca. 30 million years old (photo: Peter Pulkowski) GEOSCIENTIFIC COLLECTIONS

Mollusks chronicle the climate

Mammoths and mussels, dragonflies and corals: the Paleontology Collection at the Institute of Geosciences at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is incredibly diverse. What's missing is a proper curator. Because the million or so specimens in the collection are too much for anyone to manage on a part-time basis.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)HYMNBOOK COLLECTION

4,000 litmus tests from history

The Hymnbook Archive of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) holds perhaps the world's most important collection of utilitarian Christian literature, making it an essential resource for scholars. Hymnbooks reflect history in a unique way. Professor Dr. Hermann Kurzke invites us to take a tour through the centuries.


African music from the basement

There are more than 10,000 recordings stored in the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The African Music Archives (AMA) represents a unique treasure trove of African music. There are old shellac disks from Tanzania, LPs from Mali, and the latest CDs from Senegal. Archive Director Dr. Hauke Dorsch invites visitors on a tour of this diverse aural landscape.


The action cinema of the ancient world

Powerful ancient masterpieces, detailed paintings on Greek ceramic vessels, and much more are on offer in the cast and original collections of Classical Archaeology division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Not only teaching staff but also students are involved with the collections. They jointly develop design concepts and organize exhibitions.


Immortal minerals

The Mineralogical Collection of the Institute of Geosciences is housed in a simple room with 60s charm. Here, rubies, emeralds, gold, and much more sparkle in plain glass cabinets. Professor Dr. Wolfgang Hofmeister guards these treasures and is responsible for adding new items – sometimes even vaporizing a diamond in the service of science.


Bronze head tells a tale of African culture and European plunderers

The Ethnographic Collection of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is tucked away in the basement of the Forum universitatis. The more than 3,200 objects not only tell the stories of foreign cultures but also reveal just as much about the culture of European collectors over the past century. Custodian Dr. Anna-Maria Brandstetter provides insight into this treasure trove.