(Re)writing the Early Biography of the Alhambra’s Fountain of Lions: New Evidence from a Neo-Latin Poem (1497)

In: Muqarnas Online
Bernhard Schirg Institute of Greek and Latin Philology, Freie Universität Berlin

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In the centuries following the conquest of Granada in 1492, the Alhambra’s iconic Fountain of Lions underwent numerous changes. More than a hundred years ago, a process of restoring the object to its original appearance under Nasrid rule was initiated. The joint interpretation of archaeological findings and historical texts guided the process of writing and rewriting the early biography of an object whose physical form has gradually been reshaped according to these narratives. The present article focuses on a brief period in the complex history of the fountain—the decades surrounding the conquest of Granada—and revisits Islamic and Christian written testimonies, emphasizing their inherent limitations as documentary sources. By introducing a hitherto unknown Neo-Latin poem, the article calls into question the early biography of the Fountain of Lions as it has been narrated so far, thereby challenging recent modifications to the fountain.

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