Conferences - Levant Antiquarianism in European History and Literature (1500-1850)

Second in-person group meeting – 1-2/02/2023

The second meeting of the interdisciplinary workshop on Levant antiquarianism in European History and Literature (1500-1850) organized and sponsored by the Haifa Center for Mediterranean History and hosted by the EUI Florence explores a range of themes and cultural practices which include:

  • Travel narrative
  • Scriptural history
  • Dilettanti
  • Orientalism
  • Tombs and rememberance
  • Natural histories
  • Sacred antiquarianism

Speakers: Damiano Acciarino, Zoe Beenstock, Paul Csillag, Emanuele Giusti, Sundar Henny, Noah Heringman, Simon Mills, Avinoam Yuval-Naeh, Valentina Pugliano, Jonathan Sachs, Umberto Signori,  Zur Shalev, Jillian Heydt-Stevenson, Ana Struillou, Rosemarie Sweet

The Levant Antiquarianism in European History and Literature 1500-1850 met for the second time in Florence, kindly hosted in the idyllic setting of the Badia Fiesolana at the European University Institute Florence for two days of pre-circulated papers, discussion, and a Levant antiquarianism-themed tour of the city.

First in-person group meeting – 22-23/05/2022

The “Levant Antiquarianism” research group held a two-day meeting on May 22-23, 2022 at the University of Haifa. Participants pre-circulated a primary text, followed by discussion, with the goal of establishing a shared archive and vocabulary for our research.
Noah Heringman launched the discussion with Herodotus’s empirical account of the Nile delta. Sundar Henny introduced his research on Jean Bodin’s colloquium, which included the nocturnal activity of Egyptian mummies. Umberto Signori presented materials on seventeenth-century coins and curiosities. Valentina Pugliano characterized the informal knowledge network of physicians to the Italian councillor in Beirut, Cairo, and Tripoli. Zur Shalev examined a small Cairo shop run by Louis Bertier, which trafficked exotica to an avid seventeenth-century European market. Simon Mills shared his research on the Netherlands physician Johannes van Cotovicius’s account of travels in seventeenth-century Palestine.
Turning to late eighteenth-century colonial America, Zoe Beenstock researched Thomas Pownall’s theory that modern America was a development of ancient Egypt. Jillian Heydt-Stevenson examined the life-writings of Lady Hester Stanhope, whose travels in Palestine and Syria in the early nineteenth-century unsettled British patriarchy. Jonathan Sachs examined Lord Byron’s endnotes written in the persona of an antiquarian to Canto 1 of his poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
These two days of discussion were bookmarked by a tour of layers of Crusader, Ottoman, and Napoleonic history in Acre, and Federico Ugolini’s guest lecture on ancient Italian ports as sites for researching early modern perceptions of identity.
The group’s next meeting in February 2023 will develop this productive groundwork towards members pre-circulating their written papers for discussion. Stay tuned!

First online group meeting – 12/01/2022

All of the group members met online for introductions, a discussion of the group’s rationale and research aims, and future plans. We decided to form a shared set of keywords, and to decide on a set of primary texts to analyze in our meeting, planned for June 2022 in Haifa.