Digital Lunch Seminar Series: How Ink Analysis Can Contribute to Uncover the History of a Vanished Library
Wann: Mo, 19.06.2023, 12:00 Uhr bis 13:00 Uhr
Digital Lunch Seminar Series: Lecture 2/4
How Ink Analysis Can Contribute to Uncover the History of a Vanished Library
Claudia Colini and Konrad Hirschler
Chair: Olivier Bonnerot
At the end of the 18th century the Ottoman governor of the province of Sidon, Aḥmad Pasha al-Jazzār (d. 1804), founded in Acre a splendid endowment complex, including a vast library encompassing over 1,800 volumes, among them masterpieces such as the oldest copy of al-Nadīm’s (d. 995) bibliographic al-Fihrist. Manuscripts bearing the stamp of al-Jazzār’s library, its endowment statements and shorter endowment annotations, or mottos, have been known for a long time to sit in libraries around the world including Chester Beatty, Princeton and Berlin. Yet, the discovery of the library inventory in the Ankara Endowment Ministry has finally provided the decisive clue to study one of the most important cultural projects of its period in the Ottoman provinces.
Our paper aims to uncover the history of this library: how it was formed, kept and dispersed after the death of its founder. We observed that several hands penned the endowment statements and mottos and that two seals matrices were employed, suggesting that multiple writers and curators were active in annotating the books, perhaps depending on the entry time of the volumes in the library, or based on periodic checking of the collection’s contents. For this reason, we analysed and compared the inks employed in the seals, the endowment statements and the mottos of seven al-Jazzār’s manuscripts, nowadays preserved at the Chester Beatty Library, to verify whether groups of writings sharing the same material features can be identified. The study was conducted according to the standard protocol for the characterisation of writing materials in use at the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC), including analytical methods such as UV-Vis-IR microscopy, shortwave Infrared reflectography (IRR) and X-Ray fluorescence (XRF).
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