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.
[21 August 1910]
Dearest Mother. I had a delightful day at the exhibition today. All the professors were taking a holiday so that I had the library to myself. I read a great big book all through – it was about carpets, but it had lots of other things in too, and I felt at the end that I had got a good way forrader. The exhibition is in the Ausstellungs-park – you know, near the huge statue of Germany. I lunch in a little open air restaurant near it, which saves time and is pleasanter than the hotel. It’s broiling hot – I love it.
Today before I came away I found in the park a place where a lot of orientals are sitting and carrying on their trades. So I sought out the Syrians – they are from Damascus – and had a long gossip with them. One was a Druze and he told me all the news of the Hauran. I was delighted and so were they for they never have anyone to speak to.
I am going to lunch with the Pagets tomorrow and then I shall hang about till Hugo comes. I have used these evening when I have been alone to write an article on the Persian and Arab poets for Mr Richmond. I hope it is all right. I think it is. And I am glad to have it off my mind. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude
I’m writing to Father tonight.
(from the Gertrude Bell Archive, via Eva-Maria Troelenberg’s fantastic article on the exhibition in the latest Journal of Art Historiography)