History seminars at the IHR

Collecting & Display (100BC to AD1700)

Convenors: Dr Andrea Galdy, Susan Bracken, Adriana Turpin

Venue: Wolfson Room I, in the IHR basement, unless otherwise stated.

Time: Monday, 6.00pm

If interested persons are not receiving emails from the conveners, they should contact collecting_display@hotmail.com.

Summer Term 2015
DateSeminar details
8 June European collectors in early modern Aleppo

Dr Simon Mills (University of Kent)

In the sixteenth century, the Syrian city of Aleppo emerged as an important centre of the European Levant trade. The establishment of French, English, and Dutch consulates brought an influx of merchants to the city, lured by the trade in spices and silk. Yet Aleppo also drew a number of Europeans with interests rooted in scientific and scholarly concerns, in search of different kinds of commodities: manuscripts, antiquities, and the flora and fauna of the Near East. This talk will explore the careers of several European collectors in Aleppo, their motivations, and their interactions with Ottoman scribes and dealers. Tracing the development of the merchant communities in the city and the increasing European interest in the antiquities and natural history of Syria, it will argue that commerce interacted with science and scholarship to enable a new kind of early modern collector. It will then survey some of the manuscripts, antiquities, and natural specimens brought back to Europe between the late sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries, and assess the importance of their place in the development of European libraries, museums, and scientific collections.

Dr Simon Mills is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Kent. His current project explores the link between overseas trade and various forms of early modern scholarship by tracing the links between English commercial and diplomatic expansion in the Near East and the development of oriental and antiquarian studies in Britain. He was awarded his PhD at Queen Mary, University of London in 2009, and has held fellowships at the Council for British Research in the Levant; CRASSH, University of Cambridge; and the Dahlem Humanities Centre, Freie Universität, Berlin.
Venue: Court Room, 1st floor, South block, Senate House