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Reconstructing the Medieval Islamic rock crystal 'industry'

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The Treehouse

Berrick Saul building

University of York

York

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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Speaker: Professor Jeremy Johns, University of Oxford

York Islamic Art Circle

Vessels carved from solid rock crystal are amongst the most celebrated objects made under the ʿAbbasid and Fatimid caliphs in the 9th to 11th centuries. Very few survive in the contemporary Muslim world, and most entered European church treasuries during the Middle Ages as reliquaries and as sacred vessels for the Mass. As a result, far more is known of their history and symbolism as Christian-ised objects, than of the “industry” that produced them before they came to Europe — the origins of the raw crystal, the locations of the workshops in which they were produced, the tools and techniques used to carve a material that is harder than any metal, the organisation of the market, and the use and consumption of, and changing fashion for, rock crystal objects in the Islamic world. This beautifully illustrated talk presents the preliminary results of a project to investigate such questions, directed by Jeremy Johns and Elise Morero at the Khalili Research Centre in the University of Oxford.

Speaker biography: Professor Jeremy Johns is the director of the Khalili Research Centre, at the University of Oxford, and Professor of the Art & Archaeology of the Islamic Mediterranean. His research includes relations between Muslim and Christian societies, in the medieval Mediterranean, as manifested in material and visual culture. His research has focused upon the archaeology of the transition from late antiquity to early Islam in the Levant and, especially, upon the archaeology, history, and art history of Sicily under Islamic and Norman rule, from the Muslim conquest of the island in the ninth century, to the destruction of the Islamic community of Sicily, by Frederick II in the thirteenth century.

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Date and Time

Location

The Treehouse

Berrick Saul building

University of York

York

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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