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Torsten Hylén


In this study the author examines some aspects of authority in the movement of the Shiʿite leader al-Mukhtār (d. 67/687). The notion of religious aesthetics as developed by Birgit Meyer is used as an analytical tool. It is argued that al-Mukhtār accomplished his political endeavour partly by introducing and controlling three “aesthetic forms” which functioned as “media” between the people and the deceased ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib: his claim to act on behalf of ʿAlī’s son Ibn al-Ḥanafiyya, whom he called al-mahdī, “the rightly guided”; his call to revenge for the killing of ʿAlī’s son Ḥusayn; and his exhibiting of a chair that he claimed had belonged to ʿAlī. The accounts of these three media, the author furthermore argues, have an historical foundation. Finally he holds that through these media al-Mukhtār was able to channel the needs and aspirations of many of the Shiites of Kufa into political action.

Therese Martin


By focusing on San Isidoro de León in the central Middle Ages, this study investigates the multiple meanings behind the presence of objects from other cultures in a royal-monastic treasury, suggesting a reconsideration of the paths by which such pieces arrived. The development of the Isidoran collection is reexamined through a close analysis of a charter recording the 1063 donation together with early thirteenth-century writings by Lucas of Tuy. Documentary evidence is further weighed against visual analysis and technical studies of several key pieces from the medieval collection. In particular, the Beatitudes Casket (now at the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid) is singled out to demonstrate how art historical, epigraphic, and historical research come together with carbon-14 testing, revealing that this object was assembled in a very different moment from those traditionally assumed.

Ana Cabrera Lafuente


This paper presents the first in-depth analysis of the textiles held by the Museo de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro de León, providing a careful investigation of textile features and raw materials, in addition to carbon-14 dating and archival research. These new data have allowed us to redate the fabrics, placing them within their tenth- through early thirteenth-century Mediterranean and European contexts. The result is a more complex image than was previously assumed, and it offers a significant starting point for further research into the roles played by textiles in medieval Iberia.

Ayman Shihadeh


Avicenna’s Neoplatonic account of divine providence and theodicy was hugely influential on later philosophical and religious thought in the Islamic world. However, it was severely criticised by one of his earlier commentators, the theologian-philosopher Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210). While Avicenna champions an optimist theodicean thesis of a plenitude of good to support the theory of providence integrated into his cosmogony, his commentator counters by arguing for a plenitude of evil and an overall pessimist anti-theodicy. Rejecting Avicenna’s ontological-cum-cosmological account of evil, al-Rāzī argues that a theodicy must be strictly subject-centred and is ultimately a futile exercise. This article includes a study and translation of the relevant section in his commentary on Avicenna’s al-Išārāt wa-l-tanbīhāt (Pointers and Reminders).

Feras Krimsti


In eighteenth-century Aleppo, books acquired an unprecedented significance among Aleppo’s Christians, against the background of an expanding “culture of the book”. This paper attempts to reconstruct the library of the Maronite physician Ḥannā al-Ṭabīb (c. 1702–1775), based on ownership statements in manuscripts purchased by the German scholar and Oriental traveller Ulrich Jasper Seetzen (1767–1811) in Aleppo, presently preserved in Gotha’s Research Library. Proceeding from an assessment of the ownership statements and a thematic analysis of the library, the paper will address the implications for our understanding of book ownership in the social and intellectual milieu of the owner. It will be argued that owning books was a facet of an intensifying and active—not passive—preoccupation with literature among Christians.

Paola Tartakoff


In the 1230s, Christian authorities prosecuted Norwich Jews on charges of having seized and circumcised a five-year-old boy in an effort to convert him to Judaism. In the same decade, English chroniclers began to depict this case as an attempted ritual murder. According to Roger Wendover and Matthew Paris, Jews circumcised the boy with the intention of crucifying him at Easter. This article explores what the near simultaneous development of these two intriguing and seemingly disparate narratives suggests about thirteenth-century Christian perceptions and portrayals of circumcision. In so doing, it ushers research on medieval Christian attitudes toward circumcision into new spheres, deepens understandings of thirteenth-century Christian anxieties about conversion to Judaism, and brings to light a marginal note in the autograph copy of Matthew Paris’ Chronica majora that may constitute evidence of evolving Christian views of the relationship between the bodies of Jews’ alleged victims and the body of Christ.

David Larsen


This article takes a close look at the word maʿnā as analyzed by Abbasid-era authorities on the Arabic language, chiefly Ibn Fāris (d. 395/1004). The word’s context-sensitivity and polysemy are well known; less well appreciated are the lexical and morphological preconditions for maʿnā’s diversity of meanings across the disciplines. Even less well studied (though widely quoted in lexicographical literature) is the anonymous basīṭ-meter couplet that Ibn Fāris cites in al-Ṣāḥibī fī fiqh al-lugha as a locus probans for the word. The speaker in these verses boasts of ransoming a bound captive (ʿānī), using maʿnā to refer to the captive’s abject state. There is evidence to suggest that the verses once featured in a lost work of the philologist Abū Naṣr al-Bāhilī (d. 231/855) called Kitāb Abyāt al-maʿānī. This was an anthology of verses framed like riddles whose interpretation hinged on double meanings and rare metaphors, and its form and content may be judged by numerous outtakes preserved in later anthologies and lexica. The affiliation of Ibn Fāris’s verses to Kitāb Abyāt al-maʿānī would confirm that the derivation of maʿnā truly is a puzzle with multiple answers. To contemplate its parameters is to uncover a paradigm for meaning in which noetic intention and phenomenological exposure are figurative correlates of bodily captivity and duress.

Ordinary Jerusalem, 1840-1940

Opening New Archives, Revisiting a Global City


Edited by Angelos Dalachanis and Vincent Lemire

In Ordinary Jerusalem, Angelos Dalachanis, Vincent Lemire and thirty-five scholars depict the ordinary history of an extraordinary global city in the late Ottoman and Mandate periods. Utilizing largely unknown archives, they revisit the holy city of three religions, which has often been defined solely as an eternal battlefield and studied exclusively through the prism of geopolitics and religion. At the core of their analysis are topics and issues developed by the European Research Council-funded project “Opening Jerusalem Archives: For a Connected History of Citadinité in the Holy City, 1840–1940.” Drawn from the French vocabulary of geography and urban sociology, the concept of citadinité describes the dynamic identity relationship a city’s inhabitants develop with each other and with their urban environment.

CyberResearch on the Ancient Near East and Neighboring Regions

Case Studies on Archaeological Data, Objects, Texts, and Digital Archiving


Edited by Vanessa Bigot Juloux, Amy Rebecca Gansell and Alessandro Di Ludovico

CyberResearch on the Ancient Near East and Neighboring Regions is now available on PaperHive! PaperHive is a new free web service that offers a platform to authors and readers to collaborate and discuss, using already published research. Please visit the platform to join the conversation. CyberResearch on the Ancient Near East and Neighboring Regions provides case studies on archaeology, objects, cuneiform texts, and online publishing, digital archiving, and preservation.
Eleven chapters present a rich array of material, spanning the fifth through the first millennium BCE, from Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and Iran. Customized cyber- and general glossaries support readers who lack either a technical background or familiarity with the ancient cultures. Edited by Vanessa Bigot Juloux, Amy Rebecca Gansell, and Alessandro Di Ludovico, this volume is dedicated to broadening the understanding and accessibility of digital humanities tools, methodologies, and results to Ancient Near Eastern Studies. Ultimately, this book provides a model for introducing cyber-studies to the mainstream of humanities research