Copper Dirham of Najm al-Din Alpi (r. 1152-1176). American Numismatic Society, New York (1917.215.1072).

“Antiquarianism” is the term of art used to describe the study of the European past through its material remains before art history and archaeology emerged in the nineteenth century as the disciplines devoted to its study. In the period between 1300 and 1800 the encounter with ruins in Northern Europe, North Africa, Greece, and the Levant led to the development of new notions of evidence, new technologies of historical argumentation, new forms of literary exposition, and new standards of proof. While history from texts remained powerful, for a few centuries its hegemony was challenged.

The history of antiquarianism in Europe has been the subject of a burst of new work in the past decades. This coincides with the importance attached more generally to “materiality” and the study of material culture. But there has also been a completely new effort to explore this phenomenon, in its own terms, in other cultures. Comparative projects were the focus of conferences at Bard Graduate Center in 2004 and the Getty Research Institute in 2010, and each of these has resulted in a book of essays: Antiquarianism and Intellectual Life in Europe and China 1500-1800 (2012) and World Antiquarianism (2013).

The time has come to examine the Islamic world in these same terms and with this same care. That is the goal of this conference.


Please check back soon for a detailed schedule.