Blogging the V&A Samarra Material


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!

Happy Eid!

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:

MMA - sf1974-161-9b

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.