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Middle East Garden Traditions

Posted On April 14, 2015 | 11:46 am | by meredithb | Permalink
A Legacy Digital Humanities Project

Between 2004 and 2007, an international team of scholars collaborated on an online resource on garden traditions in the Islamic world, from the eighth century to the present. The project accompanied and supplemented a Garden and Landscape Studies Symposium, which was jointly sponsored by Dumbarton Oaks and the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer and Sackler Galleries, in 2007. Its papers were edited by Michel Conan and published by Dumbarton Oaks as Middle East Garden Traditions: Unity and Diversity; Questions, Methods and Resources in a Multicultural Perspective (2007).

The vast chronological and geographic scope of this project, and its rich source materials including texts, illustrations, and archaeology, resulted in a number of valuable resources for scholars. These include catalog entries for Umayyad, Abbasid, Andalusian, Ottoman, Mughal, and Safavid gardens; a multilingual glossary of terms in Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, and Urdu; a glossary of tree and shrub species in Al-Andalus, known from medieval botanical texts; and a historical dictionary of Ottoman Turkish terms for gardens and gardening comprising some twelve thousand entries.

From 2004 to 2013, Middle East Garden Traditions was administered from Istanbul by Yücel Dağlı and Deniz Çalış. In fall of 2013, Garden and Landscape Studies Director John Beardsley was approached to formulate a plan for Dumbarton Oaks to assume responsibility for hosting and maintaining the project. William R. Tyler Fellows Deniz Turker Cerda and Aleksandar Shopov collaborated with Graduate Digital Humanities Fellow Lain Wilson, Database and CMS Developer Prathmesh Mengane, and Web and Graphic Designer Michael Sohn to convert the various materials and upload them to Dumbarton Oaks’ content management system, Plone. In order to highlight the phenomenal work accomplished by the original team of researchers, the project includes custom views of catalog entries and sophisticated searching capabilities for users.

Finally, Aleksandar Shopov completed an additional project: an online exhibit in which he explores the market gardens (bostans) of Istanbul as they were depicted in the photographs of Nicholas Artamonoff, Robert Van Nice, Cyril Mango, and the Byzantine Institute, dating from the 1930s to the 1970s, many of which are held by the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives.

Explore Middle East Garden Traditions here.