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Press Release No. 67 | 30 October 2007
Trier's Market Cross On Tour in Washington

The DFG Presents Its Exhibition "Tracing A Common Past" in the USA - Showcasing the Results of a Collaborative Research Centre in Trier

Following a tour of Germany, France and Luxembourg, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is now presenting its exhibition "Tracing A Common Past: European History Between the Meuse and Rhine" in the USA. As part of the "Year of Humanities", visitors to the Goethe Institute in Washington will be invited to take a trip through time and space, on which they will have the opportunity to visit important moments in the development of European culture. The exhibition documents the results of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre "Between the Meuse and the Rhine - Connections, Encounters, and Conflicts in a European Core Area from the Ancient World to the 19th Century", which was located at the University of Trier for many years. The President of the DFG, Professor Matthias Kleiner, will open the exhibition in Washington on 6 November 2007.

Visitors will encounter the Trier of late antiquity, with its many churches, meet the Jewish community in Worms and gain insight into relationships between Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages. They will also get a glimpse of paper manufacturing in Epinal and the fate of the city of Luxembourg over the course of numerous wars and sieges. The exhibition also documents the establishment of schools for girls in Central and Eastern Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, originating from Liege, as well as how the region around Aachen developed into an early centre of industrialisation. The exhibition will also feature a model of a Gutenberg printing press, historic tools used for paper and cloth making, and a large number of original documents and books from various museums and archives. A particular attraction is the cast of the market cross from Trier, which is so realistic, you could begin to wonder what is taking its place at the market square during the exhibition.

The European Union has existed for the past 50 years, but the "European Idea", the common tradition and history, is much older. Its origins date back to Greco-Roman antiquity, and its development can be traced across all national and language borders on the continent. It leads right to the roots of the modern-day European Union, located between the Meuse and the Rhine. In spite of painful tensions, disputes and wars that brought a lot of suffering over the centuries, networks of ideas, people and trade laid the foundations of Europe here in this "core region", so critical to its development. This was where common traditions were established amongst the colourful variety of cultures and languages, and where cultural and economic stimuli were picked up, developed, and passed on to other regions, and it is also where the three seats of the European Union, Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg, all lie. It was not far from Strasbourg that the cosmographer Martin Waldseemüller created his map of the world, the first to bear the name "America", in 1507 - one of the topics featured at the exhibition.

With this presentation the DFG hopes to present European culture and science to a broad cross-section of the American public. The DFG also hopes that the exhibition will bolster its efforts to intensify cooperation between German and American researchers. This is also the goal of the DFG's liaison office in Washington, established in 2002, and its second US office, opened in New York on 1 October 2007. As well as intensifying contact with American and Canadian universities, research institutions and researchers, other objectives include the creation of a forum for bilateral events such as symposia or review meetings as well as the expansion of support activities for young scientists and researchers.

The vernissage will include a German-American podium discussion entitled "Cultures vanish if they do not interact - Are there lessons to be learned from the formation of Europe?".

Further Information

Tracing A Common Past: European History Between the Meuse and Rhine will be open from 7 - 30 November 2007, Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Goethe Institute Washington (812 Seventh Street, NW)

Visit the exhibition online at:

For further information, please contact

  • Dr. Gisela Minn, University of Trier, Tel.: +49 651 201-3291, minn@uni-trier.de, or
  • Dr. Barbara Schwerdtfeger at the DFG's Press and Public Relations Office, Tel.: +49 228 885-2119, barbara.schwerdtfeger@dfg.de.