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 email@example.com.
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.