The Greifswald Epigraphical Research Team was established at the University of Greifswald in 2002 by the Goettingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities in in Lower Saxony in cooperation with the federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It is affiliated with the university’s Department of History. Its aim is to record and publish the historical inscriptions that were made before the year 1651 in the towns and districts along the Baltic Sea coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The first, presently ongoing, work phase is dedicated to the university and Hanseatic cities of Greifswald, Stralsund, Wismar, and Rostock. The collections of Greifswald and Stralsund have been published in print and are also accessible online (http://www.inschriften.net/). The inscriptions of Rostock and Wismar are currently being worked on and will be followed by those of the episcopal and ducal residence of Schwerin as the last urban project in the federal state. After that, the work on selected districts will begin. The editorial projects are being prepared by means of a continuous and progressive broad survey of inscriptions covering the entire federal state.
A prominent feature, especially of the urban collections in the area under study, is the large number of stone grave slabs dating from the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. To this day, hundreds of them can still be found paving the floors of many churches. For many centuries, they were re-used and re-labelled, but also worn away. While this state of preservation often makes their inscriptions difficult to read, they have proven to be unique sources for the social and family history of the urban upper classes in the region.