At the core of hermeneutics in archaeology and art history lies the ability to compare objects or images. To some extent this process resembles a court case, in which the object or image at the centre of a scientific controversy (the defendant) is `cross-examined' in order to determine its explanatory power in favour or against a research hypothesis. Other objects or images may appear as witnesses supporting a given line of argumentation. The two conflicting research hypotheses take the role of the prosecutor and the defense lawyer. The role of the judge is taken by a researcher or student who has to decide which line of argumentation they find more plausible given the evidence provided by the object or image itself and that of further witnesses. The e-learning platform "Objekte im Kreuzverhör" utilises this scenario to teach students how to interpret an object or image according to the proper hermeneutics of their subject area and how to reflect conflicting research hypotheses critically based on visual evidence.
The e-learning platform was developed by Prof. Dr. Martin Langer (Archaeology) and Prof. Dr. Caroline Sporleder (Computer Science) and funded by the Göttingen Campus QPLUS programme in the academic year 2016/17. Valuable input was provided by students from archaeology, art history and computer science, who also tested the platform in two seminars in the winter term 2016/17 and the summer term 2017.