Divination and Decision-Making by Lot and Randomization in East Asia and Europe

24-25 September 2019


Klaus Herbers / Michael Lackner / Matthias Heiduk (IKGF, FAU Erlangen)

Workshop Venue

Villa an der Schwabach
Hindenburgstr. 46 A
91054 Erlangen

The casting of lots to explore the unknown and to make decisions ranks among the oldest cultural techniques in different civilizations. Evidence for this can be found not only in Biblical narratives such as the partitioning of the Promised Land between the twelve tribes of Israel or the election of the apostle Matthias, but also by Chinese canonical sources such as the Yijing 易經 or from artefacts of temple oracles in China.

This workshop brings together scholars from different disciplines to discuss current research on the many different forms of casting lots and to make an intercultural comparison between Europe and East Asia. It will focus on specific techniques of questioning lots and related mechanisms of randomization such as geomancy or bibliomancy as well as their social context and their use for divination, decision-making, and reducing contingency. In addition, the workshop will address the blurred boundaries between prediction and gambling as well as attempts of manipulating and calculating probabilities.

For more information, please contact Matthias Heiduk (matthias.heiduk@fau.de).


Poster Flyer


24 September, 2019

10:15 a. m. Welcome Address and Introduction
Klaus Herbers, Michael Lackner (Directors IKGF, FAU Erlangen)
10:30 a. m. Session 1
Chair: Klaus Herbers
The Book of Changes and Temple Oracles
Michael Lackner (IKGF, FAU Erlangen)
Latin Books of Fate in Medieval Europe: The Case of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms Ashmole 304
Allegra Iafrate (Scripta, Paris Sciences et Lettres)
12:00 p. m. Lunch Break
13:30 p. m. Session 2
Chair: Klaus Herbers
Gambling and Manipulating the Afterlife: The Lottery for Poor Souls
Matthias Heiduk (IKGF, FAU Erlangen)
Detours and Short-Cuts in Random Selection Procedure: Counting-Out and Drawing Lots in Chinese Divination and Gambling
Stéphanie Homola (Institute for Near Eastern and East Asian Languages and Civilizations, FAU Erlangen)
15:00 p. m. Coffee Break
15:30 p. m. Session 3
Chair: Michael Lackner
Western European Books of Fate and Bibliomancy
Marco Heiles (Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, University of Hamburg)
Gaming and Divining in East Asian Buddhism
Esther-Maria Guggenmos (IKGF, FAU Erlangen)
17:00 p. m. Coffee Break
17:30 p. m. Session 4
Chair: Michael Lackner
Lots and Law: Juridical Usages of Randomization in Medieval Europe
Klaus Herbers (IKGF, FAU Erlangen)
Decision-Making by Casting Lots in Byzantium
Michael Grünbart (Institute for Byzantine Studies, University of Munster)

25 September, 2019

9:30 a. m. Session 5
Chair: Matthias Heiduk
Elections by Casting Lots in Medieval Italy
Christoph Dartmann (Medieval History, University of Hamburg)
Reincarnation Lotteries, Books of Fate, and Potluck Soups: Casting Lots in Tibet
Rolf Scheuermann (IKGF, FAU Erlangen)
11:00 a. m. Coffee Break
11:30 a. m. Session 6
Chair: Matthias Heiduk
Natural Divination in Medieval Treaties on Geomancy
Alessandra Beccarisi (History of Medieval Philosophy, University of Lecce)
Jueyi 決疑 or The Taming of Chance. Some Comparative Remarks on Necessity and Statistical Stability in China and the West
Andrea Bréard (History and Diffusion of Science, University of Paris-Sud / Paris-Saclay)
13:00 p. m. Final Discussion
Chair: Klaus Herbers, Michael Lackner

International Consortium for Research in the Humanities

"Fate, Freedom and Prognostication. Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe."

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Hartmannstr. 14
91052 Erlangen
Telefon: +49 (0)9131 85 - 64340
Fax: +49 (0)9131 85 - 64360
E-Mail: Petra.Hahm@ikgf.uni-erlangen.de