Riccardo Ginevra

Riccardo Ginevra

Marie Curie Fellow

  • Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics

    Emil Holms Kanal 2, 2300 København S, Building: 22.5.12

    Phone: +45 35 33 38 73

I am a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoc Fellow in Indo-European Linguistics at the Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics of the University of Copenhagen. I am part of the interdisciplinary research centre "Roots of Europe - Language, Culture, and Migrations".

Previously, I was a Postdoc Fellow at Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies (2019-2020), of which I am currently "Fellow in Comparative Poetics and Comparative Mythology", and a Contract Lecturer at the Department of Linguistics of the University of Cologne (2018-2020).

I received my PhD in 2018 from the Università per Stranieri di Siena and the University of Cologne (joint supervision) with a dissertation on the onomastics, phraseology and mythology attested in the Eddic poem Vǫluspá and in other Old Norse texts from a comparative Germanic and Indo-European perspective.

Primary fields of research

My research mainly deals with the comparative and historical study of the ancient Indo-European languages (among which are Hittite, Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, as well as Old Norse and other ancient Germanic languages such as Old English and Old Saxon) and with the reconstruction of their common prehistoric ancestor, conventionally called Proto-Indo-European, probably spoken more than 5000 years ago in the Eurasian Steppe. 

By studying these languages in a comparative perspective, historical linguists have reconstructed not only an impressive amount of words of PIE, but also of its traditional formulas and poetic phrases: these are the subject of study of the discipline of Comparative Indo-European Poetics, which gives us precious insights into the mythological beliefs of the speakers of Proto-Indo-European: for instance, we can reconstruct numerous poetic images and cosmological conceptions concerning the day-lit sky, the sun, the sunlight, and the deities which were associated with them. 

This type of analysis has only sporadically been applied to Old Norse and Germanic texts, which, however, attest cultural conceptions which have parallels in Bronze Age archaeological artefacts belonging to Northern and Central European prehistoric cultures, whose formation has recently been traced back by scholars of Archaeology, Genomics, and Archaeolinguistics (an interdisciplinary field combining Historical Linguistics and Archaeology) to contacts between pre-existing populations of Neolithic farmers and migrating groups of Proto-Indo-European-speaking pastoralists.

Current research

My project "SunSHINE – The Sun-chariot’s Journey Towards the Nordic Sky: on the (Pre-)History of Ideas on Sky, Sun, and Sunlight in Northern Europe" (890522) has two main objectives:

  1. to apply the approach of Comparative Indo-European Poetics to Old Norse and Germanic texts by analysing poetic phraseology and mythological conceptions concerning the sky, the sun, and sunlight which find correspondences in other Indo-European traditions and which may thus reflect Proto-Indo-European heritage;
  2. to connect the results of this analysis with prehistoric archaeological artefacts by means of an interdisciplinary approach to these issues.

With my research, I hope to further develop the field of Comparative Indo-European Poetics and to strengthen the interdisciplinary collaboration between Historical Linguistics and Archaeology.

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