10. July 2018 – 11. July 2018
Beyond Printed Sources: Medieval Manuscripts as Evidence for the History of the Persianate World
The interaction between nomadic conquerors and sedentary subjects is documented in Eurasia from antiquity. However, between the thirteenth and early fifteenth centuries, most of western Eurasia (the Caucasus, Iran, Central Asia and northern India) was dominated by ruling dynasties of nomadic and semi-nomadic Turco-Mongol origin. These new nomadic rulers opened the region to the migration from the Far East of skilful artisans, scholars and religious leaders, while promoting the development of local artisans and intellectuals. During this period, the Persianate World witnessed an unprecedented burst in the production of Persian manuscripts under the patronage of different members of the Mongol and Timurid courts that ruled Iran and Central Asia between the 13th and 15th centuries. In this context, Persian manuscript played a crucial role in the production, circulation and transmission of sciences, literature and historical knowledge. Yet, despite the efforts of some scholars and institutions in the last decade in trying to raise awareness of the extensive number of sources still available in manuscript form, most of the research produced for the history of 13th-15th century Eurasia is still carried out based on edited-printed sources.
Each manuscript can potentially present us with a unique opportunity for research even when the text contained in its pages is well known in the field. In other words, the handcrafted process in which each manuscript was produced made each of the codices a unique object, depositary of unique information and potentially offering a new insight into the history of the period. The workshop aims at exploring opportunities and challenges of integrating textual and material aspects of medieval manuscripts for the study of cultural, political and social transformations in the Persianate world from the wake of the Mongol conquests in the early 13th century up to the mid-15th century. This event is designed in a workshop format to serve as a platform from where a representative international group of established and younger scholars can present work-in-progress and discuss matters of methodology, theory and historiography for the study of medieval Islamic manuscripts.