The NVIC organises weekly Thursday lectures on a variety of subjects.
The lectures start at 6 p.m. sharp. The door opens at 5.30 p.m. Please note that seating is limited. The lecture will start as scheduled and late admissions are not allowed. After the lecture refreshments will be served in the hall of the institute.
23 May: Reconstructing the archives of Baghdād
Maaike van Berkel
The ‘Abbāsid administration relied extensively on the use of written documents. Narrative sources testify to the production and spread as well as archiving of large quantities and types of written documents throughout the empire. The central administrative apparatus in Baghdād, with its numerous specialized bureaus, seems to have been one of the main producers of documents and it must have possessed some of the largest archives of its age. It is no secret that the archives of Baghdād did not stand the ravages of time; only a few documents issued by the central administration have survived in their original form. The narrative sources, however, contain numerous references to the ways in which documents were preserved and archives were used. On the basis of these references I will try to reconstruct the functioning of the central administrative archives in Baghdād during the caliphate of al-Muqtadir (295/908 - 320/932), a period particularly rich in extant narrative sources on administrative practices.
Maaike van Berkel is Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on communication, court and urban history in the medieval Middle Eastern world.
30 May: Local History in the context of global History: Islamic Egypt in the Antique world
The Arab conquest, which happened in Egypt in 641, seems to have been a very radical break with the arrival of a new language, Arabic, and a new religion, Islam. Discussing the history of this country, Egypt, we can argue that History has been written from the capitals of that time (especially Damascus and Bagdad) and we should reinterpret this History in the light of the numerous local documentation available in different languages (in Coptic, Greek and Arabic). Doing that, we will be able to investigate the new place of Egypt in the world after the Arabic conquest and the impact of this change on this country. In order to make this enquiry, I will observe two indicators: administration and languages.
Sylvie Denoix is Directrice des études at the Institutfrançaisd’archéologieorientale (IFAO). She is an historian of the Medieval Arabic world. Her PhD was about Fustât, the first settlement of the Muslim and the first stage of the city of Cairo in the 7th century AD. She explored the topic of Muslim Medieval Cities, and, on the field, worked in the quarter of Khan al-Khalili, in Cairo.