A new blog, Samarra finds from the Herzfeld Excavation in the Victoria and Albert Museum, is making public the research process of cataloging the Samarra material held by the V&A.
As the site says,
“In 2013, BISI funded a pilot project to research, catalogue, photograph and conserve the V&A’s collections of material excavated by Ernst Herzfeld at Samarra in 1911-1913. This complements related projects underway at the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Berlin) and the Freer-Sackler Gallery (Washington DC), and feeds into a bigger international collaboration to reunite Herzfeld’s Samarra finds. This blog charts the discoveries we hope to make along the way.”
Primarily written by Mariam Rosser-Owen and Rosalind Wade Haddon, the blog offers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of an academic research undertaking. Here’s to hoping that more projects start to offer this kind of transparency!
This semester I have been keeping busy, presenting a paper at the University of Pennsylvania conference on a Seljuq Qur’ān manuscript, Toward a ‘Biography’ of a Manuscript: A copy of the Qur’an from 12th c. Iran. I also had the pleasure of discussing the animals of Qusayr ‘Amra’s wall paintings at the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies conference, Communities Like You: Animals and Islam. These, in addition to reading for my preliminary exams, may explain my recent radio silence on this blog (if not excuse it).
I have also been working on creating a website about Byzantine coins in the Bryn Mawr Special Collections, which I will unveil here as soon as it is completed. As a teaser (and not a Byzantine one), here’s a Seljuq coin from Syria that Professor Stefan Heidemann graciously helped me identify:
Coin from Seljuq Syria, minted in Antioch under Sultan Ridwan ibn Malikshah, ruler of Aleppo from 1095 to 1113. Aleppo became a tributary state of the crusader principality of Antioch in 1111.
Obverse and reverse depict a winged lion or sphinx. Above, the word Sultan. BMC 2011.17.438
A new volume on museum practice in the Arabian peninsula, edited by Dr. Pamela Erskine-Loftus, is slated to come in January 2013, but you can pre-order it now and receive a free digital edition immediately. If anything, the diverse topics of the different chapters show that museums today are engaging with the same cultural transformations as any other institution. The book is divided into three sections:
- Understandings of Place and Museum
- Communities and Audiences
- Exhibiting and Educating
A complete list of the chapter titles and authors is available on the pre-order website.
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, by Christine and Hagen Graf (cocoate,com)
I kind of lost the blogging spirit during my summer of Arabic immersion in Oakland, but I’m trying to get back into the swing of things. This semester I’m undertaking an NEH Curatorial Internship at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, where I’m working with Dr. Renata Holod and one of her students, Michael Falcetano, to catalog and analyze ceramic material from Rayy. I’m focusing on the stonepaste lustre-glazed fragments at the moment, so I’m looking mostly at small sherds of stuff similar to this beautiful piece:
A Ewer from Rayy - MMA - sf1974-161-9b
I also recently attended the Historians of Islamic Art Association biennial symposium, “Looking Closely, Looking Widely.” It was wonderful to see papers presented by scholars working on such interesting and varied material, and to get a sense of where the field of Islamic Art History has been and is currently headed. In a few weeks I’m off to the American School of Oriental Research Annual Meeting in Chicago, where I’m looking forward to several panels devoted to Islamic archaeology.