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Living in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Damascus

Insights into the Urban Residences of Foreigners and Locals

Series:

Anke Scharrahs

Abstract

From 1849 to 1862, Johann Gottfried Wetzstein, the first Prussian consul in Damascus, lived in several prominent buildings and cultivated an extensive network of locals and foreigners. The paper discusses residences in which Wetzstein and his contemporaries lived and worked – the private homes of important individuals and their families, such as Šaḥāda and Yaʿqūb Stambūlī, Menāḫīm Fārḥī, ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Ǧazāʾirī, the al-Qazīḥa family, the British consuls Richard Wood and James Brant, and the Irish missionary Smylie Robson. Historic photographs, a set of watercolour drawings produced by a British architect in 1847 and the houses in Damascus’ Old City allow detailed insight into the lifestyle of affluent foreigners and locals and the domestic architecture of this period.

Looking at Man in the State of Nature

Johann Gottfried Wetzstein on the Bedouin of the Syrian Steppe

Series:

Astrid Meier

Abstract

Johann Gottfried Wetzstein (1815–1905), best-known for serving as Prussian consul in Damascus from 1849 to 1861, was a prominent scholar of Oriental languages and biblical criticism as well as an expert of the politics of mid-19th century Ottoman Syria. He led several expeditions into the open lands of the Syrian Steppe, in particular in the Hauran region. Interested in geology, toponymy, philology, archaeology, history and ethnography, the results of his investigations were published in a monograph and various articles, but only few of them were translated into languages other than German. This contribution explores Wetzstein’s motivations, the reasons why not even his long travelogue was translated into English and why his writings on the Syrian Steppe remain of interest to historians today.

Manuscript Acquisitions and Their Later Movements

A Further Note about the Case of the Lewis Quranic Manuscript

Series:

Alba Fedeli

Abstract

This article traces the purchase of the dispersed fragments of the Sinaitic codex known as the Lewis Quranic palimpsest and investigates the story of the later movements and fate of these leaves. The long acquisition and dispersion process was started by Constantin Tischendorf in the mid-nineteenth century and lasted until 1936. The disappearance of the Lewis codex in Leipzig between 1914 and 1936 has been identified through unpublished materials from the correspondence of John Oman, the executor in charge of finding the manuscript to be donated to Cambridge University Library. The case of this codex Sinaiticus raises interesting questions about the trade in and availability of such important artefacts that have sometimes been hidden because of the subtle boundary between private possession and exclusive access at the beginning of the twentieth century, a crucial historical period for Quranic studies.

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Kaoukab Chebaro and Samar El Mikati El Kaissi

Abstract

This study examines the origin, usage and expansion of the Syrian Protestant College’s manuscript collection between 1866 and the 1920s. As we examine the ways in which the manuscript collection was built, accessed and used at the College, and later, at the University, we hope to uncover and emphasize the various exchanges that took place between, on the one hand, local knowledge discourses, demands and expectations around scribal practices, and on the other, printing and pedagogical practices brought about by Western presence. The chapter is thus intended as a corrective to the over-emphasised narrative of rupture and Western-based influences which has so far defined the discourse on the Nahḍa in the Levant.

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François Déroche

Abstract

As an Arabist, Johann Gottfried Wetzstein was well prepared to collect manuscripts of interest for European researchers of his time. This is especially true of the collection of early Quranic fragments he acquired at a moment when the history of the Quran was the topic of academic competition, prompting the publication of Theodor Nöldeke’s Geschichte des Qorâns.

Series:

Ludmila Hanisch †

Abstract

This article provides a survey of Oriental studies in Berlin during the nineteenth century. It uses the University of Berlin as an example of how local traditions at individual universities were able to influence the development and contours of Oriental research. The paper shows how Semitic studies evolved in the context of a more differentiated classification of languages out of Indian/Indo-European studies. It also discusses a more practical interest in the Middle East after the foundation of the German Empire in 1871.

The Wetzstein Collection at Tübingen University Library

Its History, Content and Reception in Oriental Studies

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Michaela Hoffmann-Ruf

Abstract

The Wetzstein manuscript collection at Tübingen University Library is the smallest and the most recent of the four Wetzstein collections in Germany. The purchase dates to 1864, i.e. after Wetzstein’s return to Germany. The collection covers a period of time of just less than 700 years and comprises 173 items. A first cursory inventory of the manuscripts was supplied by Wetzstein in 1863. A catalogue complying with academic standards was provided in the early twentieth century by Christian Seybold and Max Weisweiler. One of the most prominent manuscripts of the collection is Tübingen Ma VI 32, the romance (Ritterroman) of ʿUmar al-Nuʿmān and his sons. Soon after the acquisition, scholars in Germany and from abroad began to show interest in works included in this collection, an interest that resulted in a variety of scholarly works.

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Edited : Boris Liebrenz and Christoph Rauch

Wetzstein in Wonderland

Arabian Epic Manuscripts in the Wetzstein Collections

Series:

Claudia Ott

Abstract

Arabian Epics abound with brave heroes, fantastical events, mysterious creatures as well as magic places and supernatural powers. This contribution attempts to discover why we find so many manuscripts of this genre in Wetzstein’s collections.

Buying and Selling

The Business of Books in Early Modern Europe

Series:

Edited by Shanti Graheli

Buying and Selling explores the many facets of the business of books across and beyond Europe, adopting the viewpoints of printers, publishers, booksellers, and readers. Essays by twenty-five scholars from a range of disciplines seek to reconstruct the dynamics of the trade through a variety of sources. Through the combined investigation of printed output, documentary evidence, provenance research, and epistolary networks, this volume trails the evolving relationship between readers and the book trade. In the resulting picture of failure and success, balanced precariously between debt-economies, sale strategies and uncertain profit, customers stand out as the real winners.