Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Congratulations are in order!

Congratulations are due to two members of the worldwide Samarra community, Julia Gonnella and Matt Saba!

Julia Gonnella has edited the just-published and much-anticipated proceedings of the 7th meeting of the Ernst Herzfeld Gesellschaft, held in Berlin in 2011. Scholars gathered at the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin celebrated the 100th anniversary of the German excavations of Samarra by Ernst Herzfeld and Friedrich Sarre.

Julia Gonnella with Rania Abdellatif and Simone Struth, Hg. von der Ernst-Herzfeld-Gesellschaft. Beiträge zur islamischen Kunst und Archäologie. Jahrbuch der Ernst-Herzfeld-Gesellschaft e.V. Vol. 4: A Hundred Years of Excavations in Samarra (Wiesbaden, 2014). 17.0 x 24.0cm, 352 p., 85 illustrations b/w, 72 illustrations color, hardback. ISBN: 9783895009631. 79,00 €

Today, a hundred years later, our knowledge of Abbasid art has widened immensely. The papers gathered in this volume bring together the latest research on the Abbasid city and its impact on Islamic art, and touch on the history of the German excavations, the city of Samarra itself, its various finds as well with other, more recently explored Abbasid sites. It features articles by many of the key scholars working on Abbasid history and archaeology, including Alastair Northedge, Matthew Gordon and Jens Kröger, as well as emerging scholars. Articles cover such subjects as archival research, the international dispersal of the small finds, the city today (a particularly relevant topic), Chinese ceramic trade, Abbasid palace cites and their decoration, and a magisterial article that chronicles the 1911-1913 excavations. This volume is surely the most comprehensive publication on the history of Samarra’s discovery, excavation and impact, on the art of its own day as well as on modern scholarship.

Further details, including a full Table of Contents, can be found here.

Our other congratulatee is Matt Saba, who has just been successfully awarded his PhD from the University of Chicago, entitled  Impermanent Monument, Lasting Impression: the Abbasid Dar al-Khilafa Palace of Samarra. We are very excited to read this! On the basis of his past research and publications, his arguments are innovative and stimulating, and Matt will certainly be making a major contribution to the Islamic art field as his career progresses.

Indeed this is a double congratulations for Matt since he has also been awarded The Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York! From September, for two years, he will assist the Department of Islamic Art to catalogue and digitise departmental archives, especially their Herzfeld Papers, and to find ways of making these more accessible through online tools.

The first series of these papers has recently been launched online - the link to the finding aid is here - and researchers can now view select documents from the Islamic Department’s
archive of Herzfeld's papers. This first release consists of architectural drawings and plans made of monuments in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, and over the next two years the Met will continue to release new material. The next series of documents planned for posting online are original watercolours and drawings related to Herzfeld’s excavations at Samarra in 1910-1913.

As Matt says, the digitisation of the Herzfeld Papers is a work in progress, so any feedback from users on the online content is very welcome.

We also hope that Matt will soon be writing a
blog post here about the progress of the Herzfeld Papers digitisation project, and generally keeping us updated. Look forward to reading from him soon!

Mariam Rosser-Owen

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