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Summer 2012 Term Comes to a Close

The Dumbarton Oaks Summer Fellowship term ends on August 3. We would like to bid a fond farewell to our wonderful Summer Fellows in all three research areas.

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Now on View: Animal Bronzes

Posted on Aug 06, 2012 03:17 PM by lisaw |
Now on View: Animal Bronzes

James Carder

A new Museum exhibition, Animal Bronzes, recently opened in the Bliss Gallery at Dumbarton Oaks. The artworks on display highlight Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss’s collection of bronze animal sculptures that come from a wide variety of ancient cultures, including the Chinese, Egyptian, Scythian, Roman, and Incan. The Blisses' fondness for animals and birds was well known, and they seemed to delight in discovering how various cultures artistically interpreted these creatures. The artworks in the Bliss Gallery are of relatively small scale; however, the nearby Byzantine Courtyard Gallery features a large-scale ancient bronze horse, acquired by the Blisses in 1938 in anticipation of their gift of the Collection to Harvard University in 1940.

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ICFA Gardens Film

ICFA Gardens Film

Rona Razon

The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) hold unique footage of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens. While most of the footage dates to the 1930s and 1940s, some scenes may have been recorded as early as the mid-1920s. Shot in both black and white and in color, the film contains garden views, winter scenes, and summer scenes at the pool, as well as glimpses of Mildred Barnes Bliss and her friends at the Orangery and in the gardens.

The Dumbarton Oaks Gardens film was re-discovered in early 2011 when ICFA staff learned that three film reels in cold storage contained footage of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens. Films were sent to Colorlab for preservation and digitization in October of 2011, and the project was completed in March of 2012. Currently, all of the original films are safely stored in one of the freezers in ICFA’s cold storage area.

As part of the DO/Conversations series, on July 20, 2012 Archives Specialist Rona Razon described the “re-discovery” of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens film and the process of preserving it. Rona’s introduction was followed by a screening of the film with live commentary by James Carder, Archivist and House Collection Manager, and Gail Griffin, Director of Gardens and Grounds.

The presentation, including the film in its entirety, can now be seen online through Vimeo: Part I , Part II , and Part III

For more information about the project and presentation, please visit the DO/Conversations Blog , the ICFA Blog, and the Dumbarton Oaks Library and Archives Facebook page.

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Farewell to Günder Varinlioğlu

Posted on Jul 06, 2012 09:55 AM by lisaw |
Farewell to Günder Varinlioğlu

Günder Varinlioğlu has served as Byzantine Assistant Curator in the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) since September 2008. She joined Dumbarton Oaks shortly after completing her Ph.D. in Byzantine Art and Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the past four years, Günder has been an integral part of the ICFA team, establishing the digitization and cataloging workflow to share ICFA’s collections in Harvard’s VIA, serving as acting head of the department from January to October 2010, and developing and managing the Nicholas V. Artamonoff online exhibit.

During the academic year 2012–2013, Günder will be a fellow at Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations in Istanbul.

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Manuscripts on Microfilm

Deborah Brown

The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library holds almost 2,000 microfilm rolls that are reproductions of medieval and early modern manuscripts, the originals of which are held in institutions around the world. Researchers have difficulty using the collection, as it is still without a finding aid. Last year, the library started a project to develop a searchable finding aid for this collection. The project is coordinated by Byzantine Studies Librarian Deborah Brown, who is assisted by Special Projects and Reference Librarian Sarah Burke Cahalan.

In close consultation with Deb and Sarah, Web and Graphic Designer Michael Sohn and Database Specialist Prathmesh Mengane designed a FileMaker Pro database for recording each film’s information. During the summer of 2012, Deb and Prathmesh will design a version of the finding aid and auxiliary pages for the Dumbarton Oaks website. Until the new pages are launched, a simplified version of the database is available to researchers on Library levels one and four.

Key to the project are three graduate students who joined the library staff as interns for the summers of 2011 and 2012: Vladimir Boskovic (Harvard University, Classics/Modern Greek studies), Saskia Dirkse (Harvard University, Classics), and Roderick Saxey II (The Ohio State University, Classics). Their task involves evaluating the physical state of each film, identifying its contents, researching manuscripts using print and online resources, and recording the information into the FileMaker Pro database. In 2011, the team processed 531 microfilms representing 509 manuscripts. The library staff is delighted to welcome the same enthusiastic, friendly, and highly skilled team for another ten-week internship this summer.

Find out more about the manuscript-on-microfilm collection, and search the database.

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Byzantine Greek Summer School Concludes

A summary of the sixth session of the Greek Summer School at Dumbarton Oaks

Posted on Jul 06, 2012 09:55 AM by lisaw |
Byzantine Greek Summer School Concludes

Alice-Mary Talbot

The sixth session of the biennial Dumbarton Oaks summer school in Byzantine Greek was held between June 4 and 29. The program was co-taught by Alice-Mary Talbot, Director emerita of Byzantine Studies, and by Stratis Papaioannou, Associate Professor of Classics and Director of the Modern Greek Studies Program at Brown University. The school attracted a diverse and lively group of ten doctoral students from the United States and Europe, including four Americans, a Pole, a Finn from the University of Birmingham, a British student now at Berkeley, an Italian studying in Paris, a German studying in Budapest at the Central European University, and an Israeli now at Princeton.

The intense class schedule included sessions of group translation of Greek texts, practice in paleography (the reading of medieval manuscripts), private tutorials, two lectures on Byzantine literature by Margaret Mullett, and an introduction to the resources of Dumbarton Oaks, such as manuscript facsimiles in the Rare Book Library and manuscripts and inscribed objects in the Museum collection.

The Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Greek summer school alternates annually with a similar program at the Gennadeion Library at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, modeled on the Dumbarton Oaks curriculum. Following a rigorous selection process, Dumbarton Oaks covers accommodation and half-board for successful applicants, and does not charge tuition.

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Sign and Design Symposium

Posted on Jul 06, 2012 09:55 AM by lisaw |
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Sign and Design Symposium

Dumbarton Oaks is pleased to announce the symposium Sign and Design: Script as Image in a Cross-Cultural Perspective (300–1600 CE), which will take place at Dumbarton Oaks from October 12 to October 14, 2012. During the three-day conference, co-organized by Brigitte Bedos-Rezak (New York University) and Jeffrey F. Hamburger (Harvard University), scholars of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Pre-Columbian cultures from numerous disciplines—art history, history, literature, religion, linguistics, and law—will come together to consider the purpose, operations, agency, and specular forms of iconic scripts. Please visit the symposium’s webpage for further information, including abstracts, the program, and a registration form.

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Stephen Zwirn Retires

Posted on Jul 06, 2012 09:53 AM by lisaw |
Stephen Zwirn Retires

Stephen Zwirn, Assistant Curator in the Byzantine Collection, retired from Dumbarton Oaks this June. In twenty-six years of curatorial work, Stephen has played an integral role in the development of the Dumbarton Oaks Museum.

On the occasion of his retirement, Stephen recently gave an interview for the Dumbarton Oaks Oral History Project. First introduced to Dumbarton Oaks in the late 1970s as a student from New York University, Stephen’s long and fruitful curatorial tenure has spanned a third of the institution’s history, over a quarter of a century, through four directorships and through two major renovation projects.

The first of these major renovation projects occurred between 1987 and 1989 when the Director, Robert Thompson, launched a construction project that would literally change the shape of the museum. Working with then Curator of the Byzantine Collection, Susan Boyd, Stephen redesigned the galleries and reinstalled the collection, taking advantage of this opportunity to reinterpret the collection and to reimagine its narrative implications. Twenty years later, under the directorship of Edward Keenan, another major construction project gave Stephen a second opportunity to completely reinstall the collection under the guidance of the current Director of the Museum, Gudrun Bühl. Few curators have the opportunity to affect such profound and long-lasting change on the presentation of a museum’s permanent collection, but Stephen has done it no less than twice at Dumbarton Oaks.

Stephen’s plans for his retirement include a wealth of scholarly projects, and Dumbarton Oaks looks forward to his continued contributions to Byzantine Studies.

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Off the Press: How to Defeat the Saracens

Posted on Jul 06, 2012 09:53 AM by lisaw |
Off the Press: How to Defeat the Saracens

Dumbarton Oaks is pleased to announce the arrival of How to Defeat the Saracens, by William of Adam (Guillelmus Ade). This is the second volume in the monograph series Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Humanities, which focuses on the Eastern Mediterranean during the Byzantine era through the prism of non-Greek texts. In line with the vision of the founders of Dumbarton Oaks, the series fosters scholarship that connects the Byzantine and medieval humanities.

The fall of Acre in 1291 inspired many schemes for crusades to recover Jerusalem and its environs. One of these proposals is How to Defeat the Saracens, written around 1317 by William of Adam, a Dominican who traveled extensively in the eastern Mediterranean, Persia, and parts of India. The treatise presents a five-pronged plan for retaking the Holy Land. In particular, it focuses on cutting off economic and military support for Egypt. William’s personal experience in the lands he describes comes through, for example, when he recollects his encounters in Persia with a captive Greek woman whose child he baptized, and in India with a lapsed Christian who said that God had abandoned him. In this volume Giles Constable provides a critical edition of the Latin text and a facing English translation. Extensive notes, produced in collaboration with other experts, guide the reader through the political, geographical, economic, military, and historical context of this fascinating work.

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More Dumbarton Oaks Titles Available on JSTOR

Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology are now available online

Posted on Jul 06, 2012 09:53 AM by lisaw |
More Dumbarton Oaks Titles Available on JSTOR

Sara Taylor

The publications department and the Pre-Columbian Studies program are pleased to announce that Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology is now available through JSTOR.

The series, which was inaugurated in 1966, features specialized studies on the art and archaeology of the Pre-Columbian Americas. Past volumes have examined human decapitation in ancient Mesoamerica, the burial theme in the iconography of the Moche, the major gods of the ancient Yucatan, and the hieroglyphic writing of the Zapotecs. All thirty-six titles in the series will be available in their entirety to subscribers, and new content will be added as it becomes available.

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Conservation of "Three Erotes Fishing" Floor Mosaic

Posted on Jul 06, 2012 09:53 AM by lisaw |
Conservation of "Three Erotes Fishing" Floor Mosaic

Francisco López

Baltimore-based conservator Diane Fullick recently cleaned the "Three Erotes Fishing" floor mosaic in the Byzantine Courtyard of the Dumbarton Oaks Museum.

“Three Erotes Fishing” is one of a group of Roman mosaics excavated by the Antioch Expedition at Daphne-Harbie. As members of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and its Vicinity, Robert and Mildred Bliss acquired several finds from the fieldwork in the late 1930s. As a floor mosaic, "Three Erotes Fishing" requires conservation work more often than its wall-born brethren. Diane Fullick’s conservation process involved the use of a steam cleaner and sponges to remove the old protective coating, the mechanical removal of tenacious residue from between tesserae using dental picks and scalpel and, finally, the application by brush of a new protective coating.

The “Three Erotes Fishing” floor mosaic and other highlights from the Dumbarton Oaks Collections can be explored on our website through the online catalog.

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Digital Humanities Informal Talk: Perry Hewitt

Posted on Jul 06, 2012 09:53 AM by lisaw |
Digital Humanities Informal Talk: Perry Hewitt

In the three years since Perry Hewitt became the Chief Digital Officer at Harvard University she has revitalized the university’s online and digital presence. On Friday, June 15 Perry gave a talk to Dumbarton Oaks staff and interns about the role of social media and digital trends at Harvard. Perry spoke about the challenges of the constantly changing digital landscape, and the delicate balance between control and influence in providing open access to an ever wider array of resources. Mobile devices have revolutionized the media industry, and social apps have come to define institutions’ online identities. The creation, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge remain central to all of the university’s digital efforts. Following Perry’s presentation, Dumbarton Oaks staff presented various initiatives in the field of digital humanities and social media, from the ongoing digitization of 17,000 Byzantine seals to intern and project blogs.

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An Interview with Panagiotis Agapitos, Visiting Scholar

Posted on Jul 06, 2012 09:53 AM by lisaw |
An Interview with Panagiotis Agapitos, Visiting Scholar

Margaret Mullett

Panagiotis Agapitos is Professor of Byzantine literature and culture at the University of Cyprus. In addition to being a highly respected Byzantinist and philologist, he is also a best-selling novelist. Dumbarton Oaks was pleased to welcome Professor Agapitos as a Visiting Scholar in Byzantine Studies in April of 2012. The following is an interview conducted by Margaret Mullett, Director of Byzantine Studies.

Panagioti, it has been great having you here this month. Can you tell us a little about the project you’ve been working on and what has been special about doing the work in DO?

Well, it has been a great stay and I have very much enjoyed the company of the fellows, a really young group, but also it has been great to spend time with colleagues, and old and new friends. I have been working on a little book on histories of Byzantine literature on the way to writing one myself. I’ve also been looking at periodization of Byzantine literature: it sounds rather precious but it is in fact a useful methodological tool. I have been exploring the attitudes to Byzantine literature of one of the founders of our field, Karl Krumbacher (1856–1909) who wrote a Handbook to Byzantine Literature 120 years ago. I discovered that the DO library was amazingly helpful: I wasn’t expecting it to have almost all the old material, but it does, including an offprint of 1895 which allowed me to reevaluate Krumbacher and his developing views. For example, we always think of him as believing that Byzantine literature started in the fourth century with the emperor Constantine, as the second edition (1897) of his Handbook does—but in fact in his first edition (1891) he thought that Byzantine literature should start in the seventh century with arguments very similar to the ones used today to mark the end of Late Antiquity, but he was forced to start in the sixth century where the classical volume in the series ended. I’ve also discovered that Krumbacher in 1905 proposed how Byzantine literature should look, in a chapter within a popularizing book with no footnotes, but in his most mature synthetic moment.

It is surprising, isn’t it, that Krumbacher’s vision is more attractive to us than that of many who followed him?

Yes, indeed. I’ve also been looking at Franz Dölger (1891–1968), who we wouldn’t automatically think of as a student of Byzantine literature, largely because we think of him more as a student of Byzantine diplomatics, but his PhD research after the First World War was on Theodore Meliteneiotes’ poem Eis ten sophrosynen [On Chastity]. He never integrated his interest in literature with his social and economic concerns--he never developed a theory of Byzantine literature as a socio-cultural product of its time: rather he saw it as a field where endless imitation, variation and repetition went on, and only in vernacular literature was there anything original. This is a very different view from ours today, but also from Krumbacher’s. Dölger’s approach reflected an ideology close to that of Nazi Germany in which texts that failed to conform to his hieratic model, perfectly organized in a ceremonial system, were regarded as dissidents to a perfect regime. His views were hugely influential in that he wrote the overview of Byzantine literature for the Cambridge Medieval History IV.ii (published in 1967), and also provided the foundation for the Greek philology curriculum during the junta through a student of his who acted as consultant to the regime. Even now Greek university education reflects a tripartite division into 1. Introduction to Byzantine philology, 2. Byzantine poetry, 3. Byzantine prose—and this is exactly the structure of Dölger’s chapter in Cambridge Medieval History IV.ii.

Here at DO when we think of histories of Byzantine literature we think of Alexander Kazhdan, who grew up in a very different political system…

Yes, but he made the leap from his early work as an economic historian to look at Byzantium as having a literature like any other literature, and he reacted strongly against Dölger’s overschematic and rigid categorization. He suddenly began in the very late 1960s to work on literary texts with his first article on Niketas Eugenianos, and in subsequent essays and finally in the two volumes of his History of Byzantine Literature he tried to liberate the texts, their authors, and their social setting from Dölger’s categories. He was one of the first scholars really to think of Byzantine literature as a literature in its own right, not a tissue of classical quotations and evidence for lost tragedies, or the means of transferring ancient Greece to the Renaissance, or a powerful influence on Slavonic literature or a stage in the transfer of the folk tale from east to west and west to east.

His was the way of the future, surely?

Yes, indeed. The way we looked at the field twenty-five years ago has moved it dramatically away from Dölger, and a younger generation has done fantastic work and established firm theoretical foundations. You might think that postmodernism has crushed any idea of history of literature, but in fact this has not proved a problem for Byzantine literature, given that it never had a history of its own to start with.

Another issue of course is the training of students capable of reading this literature, and this is an area where you have been able to make a wonderful contribution in Cyprus.

We started there by building our own syllabus, not by adopting the Greek system, and we created a more modern program of study: students take six courses in Byzantine literature over three historical periods (early, middle, and late), which gives them the opportunity to read a large number of texts and this creates confidence in them for understanding the texts.

You’ve talked by implication about your Munich training, and now explicitly about your four-person department and its exciting activities, but not about your training at Harvard.

Well, Harvard was very important to me, a real transformation from my German-speaking education in Athens and Munich, a chance to put it into perspective. And from the cradle of Byzantine studies (and modern Greek studies) I was now involved in a department where there were other Hellenists and specialists in Vergil and Seneca and comparative languages like Sanskrit and Old Norse. And the exposure to the methods of classical philology opened up a dawning awareness that Byzantine philology demands different methods. Finally, for the first time I was exposed to the theory of literature through scholars in comparative literature, which led me to change my dissertation topic from metrics and Byzantine music to narratology. I was fortunate to be there while Ihor Ševčenko was in his prime, and also to have been at Harvard when Margaret Alexiou, famous for her classical training and for her father George Thomson, arrived in January 1986. I took her first course on death in Byzantine literature and was astonished to hear an intelligent educated scholar freely interpreting Byzantine texts as literature. Meg finally took over the supervision of my dissertation.

This might have been seen as a defection from Byzantium, since she was Professor of Modern Greek literature, and the vernacular literature of the late medieval period is disputed ground. Was it?

Well Meg was not that kind of Neohellenist: she wanted to see those texts both in a Byzantine context and from the viewpoint of modern Greek literature, but she never tried to capture them for modern Greek. She believed in the ‘continuity’ of Greek literature where others were anxious to push the origins of modern Greek literature as far back as possible. This arose from the early nineteenth-century concern for nation states and national literatures and a desire to find an equivalent to Old French and Mittelhochdeutsch: without that equivalent modern Greek literature appeared to be impoverished. What these scholars didn’t immediately realize was that vernacular literature was not "popular" but high-level aristocratic poetry, produced under the very highest patronage, steeped in the most sophisticated of rhetoric. A Neohellenist will look at the twelfth century and see only the so-called epic of Digenis Akritis and the vernacular experiments (Ptochoprodromos, Glykas, Spaneas); a Byzantinist will see these texts in the context of everything that was written in the period. Literature like art is an open space, not a territory marked out by fortresses. And this is true at the other end of our subject—the relationship of classics or Late Antiquity with Byzantine studies is just as fraught with battles for territorial control.

You said that Byzantine philology demands different methods: how does this work through in the editing of texts?

Traditionally Byzantine texts have been made to look like ancient Greek texts; they have datives and infinitives and were edited as ancient Greek with fully normalized spelling, accentuation, and punctuation according to the German school or the French school. Byzantinists have the advantage over classicists in that we have manuscripts written in the time of the authors, which means that we can reflect contemporary practice in our editing, not the unchanging mimesis of older philologists. We no longer think that manuscripts of vernacular texts are full of scribal errors which need to be corrected (normalized) by the editor: we know now that a scribe with a nice professional hand would copy two texts, one learned with "good," educated spelling, the other vernacular spelled chaotically. The chaos reflects the experimental state of a language and literature which was written without being taught in school. We need to see how the text is structured, how it can be understood, how it uses language before we can decide whether or not to "correct" it. We can learn a great deal from architects restoring monuments: our ideas of preservation now are very different from those of the nineteenth century.

Panagioti, as well as a highly respected Byzantinist and philologist you are also a best-selling novelist. How does each activity feed into the other?

I originally thought it was straightforward. Why shouldn’t a Byzantinist set a murder mystery in Byzantium? For forty years now Ellis Peters has enabled Cadfael to solve medieval mysteries, not to speak of Umberto Eco and William of Baskerville. But I admit I was wrong. It is neither unlaborious nor simple. The process of writing narrative in three dimensions drives us beyond scholarship. Ninth-century shoes may not have come down to us, but we need to represent shoes in the narrative. So I decided to take the process seriously, to be self-conscious about it, to control my own laboratory. So I ask where are the limits, and instead of creating a Philip Marlowe in Constantinople or a body in a library, I ask instead what did the Byzantines perceive as crimes in society, and I go to the legal handbooks of the ninth century to find out. This has the result of allowing me to portray a whole society not just one individual crime. This has taught me not to assume that everything happened in Constantinople: Byzantium was an empire of many cities and languages and also frontiers, and my hero experiences all this diversity. It has also helped me see that when we look at Byzantium we cannot rely on a single specialism: literary scholars must know history and art and architecture, and it is very clear that that is the way Byzantine Studies is practiced here at DO with a great concern for interdisciplinarity, and an openness to surrounding fields. Something else I gained is that writing narrative has given me a broader perspective on the history of Byzantine literature: the author is not down on the plain or on the beach but he climbs a mountain, and the distant view from the height offers clarity. And crime fiction offers its own delights of postmodernity. Intertextuality is to be expected; authors are now competing to complete Conan Doyle, or to offer Oscar Wilde as a detective; readers love that sort of game because they knowingly participate in it. Texts exist because other texts exist, and this is no surprise to the learned reader of Byzantine literary texts where mimesis creates a metalanguage which will drive dynamic response, nor is it a surprise to the avid listener to saints’ lives in monastery, church or home expecting the topoi of a narrative genre and rejoicing on finding them. All kinds of narrative constantly recur; all literature is always true. Texts are not individual masterpieces but part of a linguistic system of production and use. We should forget the concept of a masterpiece, which in the classical world has been so much promoted by processes of selection, edition, education and loss; we should concentrate on the whole of what we have and begin to understand and appreciate the processes of production and reception in Byzantium.

Panagioti, thank you. Please come back and see us soon.

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DO on NPR

John Beardsley gives an interview on "Morning Edition"

DO on NPR

On Tuesday, June 26, John Beardsley, Director of Garden and Landscape Studies, was interviewed by Susan Stamberg for the NPR program "Morning Edition." They spoke about the cao | perrot installations Cloud Terrace (in the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens) and Red Bowl (in a twelfth-century leprosarium in Beauvais, France). You can listen to the full program here.

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Engravings of North Africa

A featured item from the Library exhibit Rome Re-Imagined

Posted on Jun 04, 2012 02:27 PM by lisaw |
Engravings of North Africa

Sarah Burke Cahalan and Deb Brown

Historical and archaeological research into the ancient and medieval periods of the Maghreb must confront the legacy of nineteenth-century colonialist enterprises. In honor of the Byzantine spring symposium, "Rome Re-Imagined: Byzantine and Early Islamic North Africa, 500-800," a rare-book exhibition in the Library invites viewers to reflect on the nineteenth-century authors and publications that contributed to this legacy.

Featured item

Captain Robert Murdoch Smith (1835–1900) and Commander Edwin A. Porcher (1824–1878), History of the recent discoveries at Cyrene: made during an expedition to the Cyrenaica in 1860-61, under the auspices of Her Majesty's Government. London: Day & Son, lithographers to the Queen, 1864.

Cyrene is one of the most famous ancient cities of North Africa. It was founded around 630 B.C.E. and abandoned sometime after the Arab conquest of 643 C.E. The extensive ruins of the city and its necropolis left a distinctive mark on the landscape. The ancient name for the surrounding territory, Cyrenaica, was still in use in the nineteenth century, when the region was nominally controlled by the Ottoman Empire. The visible ruins of the famed city attracted a handful of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European travelers, who described the necropolis and fountains, produced paintings and book illustrations, and dug in various spots for collectible antiquities. Robert Smith and Edwin Porcher were the first team to approach Cyrene with the expressed purpose of "scientific" exploration and mapping of the ancient city. The British government and the British Museum sponsored their project during the years 1860 and 1861. The museum received many of the finds from their excavations.

Porcher himself produced the drawings and watercolors that were later lithographed by T. Picken and produced for publication by Day and Son—it is worth noting that Day and Son, lithographers to the Queen, was the same lithographic firm (soon to become Vincent Brooks, Day & Son) that in 1852 produced the chromolithographs in Gaspare Fossati's Aya Sofia, Constantinople: as recently restored by order of H. M. the sultan Abdul-Medjid, also in the collection of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library. Porcher's original watercolors are now in the collection of the British Museum. The published chromolithographs (one of which is reproduced here) are valuable archaeological documentation of the site before the many excavations and restorations that followed. They also typify the picturesque quality of nineteenth-century images, frequently featuring small details that would increase their charm to casual viewers. In addition, the team used a camera, supplied by the British Foreign Office, but their publication includes only a few black-and-white photographs of statues which were found at the site.

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Friends of Music Announces the 2012–2013 Concert Season

Posted on Jun 01, 2012 03:55 PM by lisaw |
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Friends of Music Announces the 2012–2013 Concert Season

This season the Friends of Music is thrilled to present two brilliant young musicians who are rapidly rising on the international scene: the phenomenal pianist Alessio Bax, and the brilliant violinist Ray Chen. Other highlights include the acclaimed male a cappella ensemble Cantus, and the celebrated virtuoso guitarists, Sergio and Odair Assad. The complete schedule follows:

October 14 & 15, 2012

Among the most esteemed wind players in the United States, the ten members of the Wind Soloists of New York perform masterworks by Rossini, Salieri, Mozart, Gounod, and Beethoven, for flute, French horn, clarinet, oboe, and bassoon.

November 4 & 5, 2012

Pianist Alessio Bax has won audiences around the globe with his lyrical playing, dazzling facility, and deep musicality. First prizewinner at both the Leeds and Hamamatsu (Japan) International Piano Competitions, he was also awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant, one of the most prestigious prizes in classical music. His program includes works by Brahms and Rachmaninov.

December 2 & 3, 2012

Recognized by Fanfare as the “premier men’s vocal ensemble in the United States,” Cantus offers an evening of high energy and beautifully blended sonorities. The nine singers perform music spanning many centuries and styles, from chant to contemporary works, to art song, world music, and, of course, seasonal favorites.

January 13 & 14, 2013

In its Washington, D.C. début, the period-instrument ensemble Quicksilver—two violins, cello, bassoon, theorbo, and harpsichord—has been praised by the Boston Globe for “fresh, technically assured, and rewarding performances.” The ensemble, led by violinists Robert Mealy and Julie Andrijeski, explores the extravagant and virtuosic chamber music of the German seventeenth century, by composers such as Johann Kaspar Kerll, Matthias Weckmann, David Pohle, and Antonio Bertali.

February 10 & 11, 2013

The distinguished Brazilian-born guitarists and brothers, Sergio and Odair Assad, return to the Music Room with works by French and South American composers, including Debussy, Ravel, Gismonti, Jobim, and S. Assad. The Assads’ exceptional artistry and uncanny ensemble playing promise to delight.

March 17 & 18, 2013

Among the finest of Czech string quartets performing today, the Škampa Quartet has represented its country in major concert halls and music festivals around the world for twenty years. Mentored by the legendary Smetana Quartet, this award-winning ensemble will perform music by Martinů, Beethoven, and Smetana.

April 21 & 22, 2013

A protégé of maestro Christoph Eschenbach and winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition (2009) and the Yehudi Menuhin Competition (2008), Ray Chen is among the most compelling young violinists today. Invited to perform at the 2012 Nobel Prize Concert in Stockholm, he is known for his beautiful tone, vitality and lightness. Chen closes the season playing works by Mozart, Brahms, Ysaÿe, and Saint-Saëns.

Programs are subject to change. For subscription information, please contact the Friends of Music.

For information about performing at Dumbarton Oaks, please contact Valerie Stains, Artistic Director and Music Advisor.

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Off the Press

De Administrando Imperio: A Commentary

Posted on Jun 01, 2012 03:55 PM by lisaw |
Off the Press

Dumbarton Oaks Publications is pleased to announce the reprint of the Commentary on the De administrando imperio. Arriving fifty years after the first and hitherto only printing, this edition is a companion piece to one of Dumbarton Oaks’ most popular books, the critical edition and translation of a key tenth-century text treatise.

The De administrando imperio, compiled by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in the tenth century, is one of the most important historical documents surviving from the middle Byzantine period, containing a wide variety of information on foreign relations and internal administration. A companion to the critical text edited by Gyula Moravcsik and translated by Romilly J. H. Jenkins (Dumbarton Oaks Texts 1), the Commentary was written in 1962 by a team of eminent scholars led by Jenkins. It remains the most thorough and authoritative study of this significant medieval text. In addition to extensive commentary on the historical, geographical, and philological nuances of the Greek text, this volume contains a bibliography, map, genealogical charts, and indexes.

Other recent publications:

Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library
Apocalypse: An Alexandrian World Chronicle, edited and translated by Benjamin Garstad

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Summer 2012 Fellows

Dumbarton Oaks is thrilled to welcome the 2012 summer fellows! A complete listing is below.

Dumbarton Oaks 2012 Summer Fellows

Patrick Andrist, Université de Fribourg
Byzantine Studies
“Critical Edition with Commentary of the Dialogue of Athanasius and Zacchaeus

Massimo Bernabò, Università degli Studi di Pavia
Byzantine Studies
“The Illustrations of the Arabic Gospels of Infancy (Firenze, Biblioteca Laurenziana cod. Orientale 387)”

Matthew Briel, Fordham University
Byzantine Studies
“Translation and Commentary of George-Gennadios Scholarios's Tracts on Predetermination”

Duncan Campbell, Australian National University
Garden and Landscape Studies
The Dumbarton Oaks Anthology of Chinese Garden Literature

Lori Diel, Texas Christian University
Pre-Columbian Studies
“The Codex Mexicanus on the Mexica of Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco”

Krzysztof Domzalski, Polska Akademia Nauk
Byzantine Studies
“A New Look at the History and Material Culture of the Pontic Region in the Early Byzantine Period: The Evidence of Fine Pottery”

Wolfram Drews, Universität Münster Historisches Seminar
Byzantine Studies
“Christians Beyond the Border:  An Item on the Agenda of Byzantine Emperors?”

Heather Hunter Crawley, University of Bristol
Byzantine Studies
“A Sensory Archaeology of the Riha Hoard”

Robert Kitchen, Knox-Metropolitan United Church
Byzantine Studies
“Ethiopian Monastic Translation: Dadisho Qatraya from Syriac to Ge’ez”

Cynthia Kristan-Graham, Auburn University
Pre-Columbian Studies
“A Marketplace of Ideas at Chichén Itzá: The Mercado and the Group of the Thousand Columns”

Elisa Mandell, California State University–Fullerton
Pre-Columbian Studies
“Representing Death and Decomposition in Costa Rican Funerary Masks”

Naama Meishar, The Hebrew University
Garden and Landscape Studies
“Politics and Ethics in Landscape Architecture: Spacing, Expression, and Representation in Jaffa's Slope Park”

Miranda Mollendorf, Harvard University
Garden and Landscape Studies
“The World in a Book: Robert John Thornton's Temple of Flora (1799–1812)”

Katherine Rinne, California College of the Arts
Garden and Landscape Studies
“The Source of the Soul: Water for Villa Waterworks in Renaissance Rome”

Erick Rochette, The Pennsylvania State University
Pre-Columbian Studies
“The Price of Prestige: Examining Classic Maya Jade Artifact Use and Economic Organization”

Terre Ryan, Loyola University Maryland
Garden and Landscape Studies
“Setting Liberty’s Table”

Manuela Studer-Karlen, Université de Fribourg
Byzantine Studies
“Byzantine Church Iconographic Programs and the Liturgy: The Case of Christ Anapeson”

Jeffrey Walker, University of Texas–Austin
Byzantine Studies
“Joseph Rhakendytes’ Synopsis of Rhetoric:  Translation and Commentary”

Martin Wallraff, Universität Basel
Byzantine Studies
“The Canon Tables of the Gospels by Eusebius of Caesarea (Fourth Century):  Critical Edition and Commentary”

Xiangpin Zhou, Tongji University
Garden and Landscape Studies
“An Imagination of the Chinese Shangri-La in a Western Way: Zhang Garden in Shanghai (1882–1918)”

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Food and the City

2012 Garden and Landscape Studies Symposium

Posted on Jun 01, 2012 03:55 PM by lisaw |
Food and the City

The intricate interrelationship between urban context and food production, central to the current debate on sustainability, was the focus of the 2012 Garden and Landscape Studies symposium at Dumbarton Oaks. The conference explored the links between culture and cultivation, with particular attention to the modern era and urbanization schemes that engaged the production of food, either as a means to achieve self-sufficiency, or as part of a ruralist perspective. As the city displaced food production further from its center, the relationship between living, working, and eating became more abstract. Today, this relationship is tested across planning and community design schemes: American suburban developments include agricultural land as a conservation measure and a nostalgic nod to a pre-agribusiness countryside; European designers focus on the suburban-rural interface to develop a new type of productive landscape, one performing simultaneously as an open space system and an agricultural laboratory; and in cities like Kampala, Uganda, or Rosario, Argentina, urban agriculture is part of a participatory design process that integrates housing programs.

Organized by Dorothée Imbert, the symposium provided a critical historical framework for today's urban agriculture by discussing the multiple scales, ideologies, and contexts of productive landscapes, from allotment gardens to regional plans. Topics included the production and distribution of food in relation to human settlement and urban form, from German Siedlungen to Italian Fascist new towns, and Israeli kibbutzim to contemporary Tokyo. The conference placed particular emphasis on the efforts of modern and early-modern landscape architects, garden designers, and architects/planners to reconcile the demands of feeding cities and regions with the exigencies of urban expansion.

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Byzantine Coins and Medallions

Posted on Jun 01, 2012 03:55 PM by lisaw |
Byzantine Coins and Medallions
Cécile Morrisson and Stephen Zwirn

Dumbarton Oaks’ world famous collection of Byzantine objects is equaled in importance and diversity by its collection of Byzantine coins and medallions. It comprises more than 12,000 specimens and covers the entire history of the long-lived empire. Although the collection includes some representative examples from the third century, comprehensive documentation begins with Constantine the Great (r. 306–337), who founded Constantinople in 324 CE, and continues through all the imperial rulers, many empresses, and even a number of usurpers up to the last legitimate ruler, Constantine XI (r. 1449–1453), who died defending the capital city against the Ottoman Turks.

There are examples of all the denominations struck at different times in the economic history of Byzantium, including gold, silver, bronze, electrum, and copper issues that, in five major catalogues, have been interpreted and made available to the scholarly and interested public.

The featured example below (BZC.1949.5) is a medallion of Constantine II (Caesar, 317–337; Augustus, 337–340) and was issued in Thessalonike in the year 326 or 327. Its diameter of 32 mm (1 ¼ inches) and weight of 13.5 grams speak to its outstanding value. It is a special coin, a multiple of the solidus—the standard gold coin weighing 4.5 grams minted for commercial transactions—struck as a commemorative medallion to mark an imperial anniversary. This three-solidi medallion celebrated the tenth year (decennalia) of Constantine II as Caesar.

The outstanding coin has a very well documented long record of ownership. It was purchased by Dumbarton Oaks from the J. Pierpont Morgan Library Collection in 1949; previously it was in the Consul E. F. Weber Collection (sold in 1909); and before that in the Vicomte Ponton d’Amécourt Collection (sold in Paris in 1887).

A considerable number of late Roman coins of the fourth century, together with a substantial number of medallions from the same period, form a significant part of the numismatic collection. The medallions were published in Dumbarton Oaks Papers 12 (1958) by Alfred R. Bellinger and the gold and silver coins of the late third and fourth centuries in Dumbarton Oaks Papers 18 (1964) by Alfred R. Bellinger et al.

The most recent article discussing imperial medallions distributed as largesse is soon to appear in J.-M. Spieser, E. Yota, ed., Donation et donateurs à Byzance, Réalités byzantines 14 (2012): 25-46, written by Dumbarton Oaks’ Numismatics Advisor Cécile Morrisson.

Museum plans for the near future include adding a ‘timeline of Byzantine emperors’ to our website that will present all the Byzantine rulers from Constantine the Great to Constantine XI, each illustrated by a coin from the collection, and presenting the entire collection online, modeled after the Byzantine Seals Online Catalogue.


Obverse (left): Bust of Constantine, a son of Constantine the Great, facing left with a laurel crown, wearing a paludamentum (military cape) and holding a globe surmounted by a Victory in his right hand and an eagle-topped scepter or sword in his left. Inscription: CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB CAES.

 

Reverse (right): Two genii facing each other and holding a garland of flowers. Inscription: VOTIS DECENN D N CONSTANTINI CAES. In the exergue (below the ground line): SMTS.

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