New Issue and CFP: Jerusalem Art History Journal: An Undergraduate eJournal

journalJerusalem Art History Journal is a new undergraduate eJournal, edited by Imagining Jerusalem network member Loren Lerner. The inaugural issue can be downloaded here.

The issue features a selection of essays produced by students of Loren’s course ‘City of Jerusalem: Ideas and Images’, which she teaches in the Department of Art History at Concordia University in Montreal.

From the issue Introduction:

‘[City of Jerusalem: Ideas and Images] considers different attachments to Jerusalem through visual perceptions and artistic representations at the religious, social, and political levels. Its focus is on the multifaceted narratives, allegiances, and ideas of the city’s history covering ancient times, the Roman and Byzantine periods, the Arab, Crusader, and Mamluk periods, and the years under Ottoman, British Mandate, Jordan/Israeli, and Israeli rule. Of central importance is the visual imagery of the real and imagined Jerusalem in the art and architecture created by different communities over thousands of years.’

The essays explore the art, architecture, archaeological sites, and urban spaces of Jerusalem from a range of eras. Others discuss works of art created by the students themselves, in which they produced their own visual response to the city.

Loren hopes that the journal will become a student-run, peer-reviewed publication, open to all universities. Contributions to the next issue (in English or French) are currently invited, and should be sent to loren.lerner[at] by 1 April 2015. The Call for Papers can be downloaded here.


New network member: Dr Jacob Norris

Bethlehem 2Jacob Norris is Lecturer in Middle Eastern History at the University of Sussex. He was previously Research Fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge, after completing his PhD at Cambridge in 2010. Jacob’s current research looks at the history of Bethlehem through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In that period Bethlehem was one of the world’s most globally connected trading towns. In the 19th century in particular, merchants from Bethlehem established themselves in all corners of the globe, acting as the “pioneers” of a much wider movement of Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians away from the Ottoman Empire. Key to these movements were the unique “Holy Land” devotional goods crafted in Bethlehem from mother-of-pearl and olive wood.

Jacob’s publications include the monograph, Land of Progress: Palestine in the Age of Colonial Development, 1905-1948, published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. He has also published recent articles on Bethlehem in the Journal of Middle East Migration Studies, Jerusalem Quarterly, History Today and The British Museum Technical Bulletin. He is currently preparing a monograph on Bethlehem, provisionally titled Bethlehem: the Global Story of a Little Town.

Miniature Jerusalems

By Laura Slater

The ERC-funded SPECTRUM: Visual Translations of Jerusalem project documents and examines visual translations of Jerusalem across Europe, including such famous examples as the Temple Church in London or the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy, but also a multitude of lesser known sites which have hitherto been studied only at a regional level. One well known English example of these monumental reproductions of Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Northampton, built in the early twelfth century by Simon de Senlis, the first Norman earl of Northampton and Huntingdon.

Round nave of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Northampton: Laura Slater

Round nave of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Northampton: Laura Slater

On a research trip to the town, however, I discovered that Northampton contains not one translation of Jerusalem, but two:

Model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

This model of the Holy Sepulchre is owned by the Hutton family and can be visited at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. These miniature scale models record the appearance and architectural features of the Holy Sepulchre from the period of its 1555 restoration to the disastrous fire in 1808. They are now valuable sources for historians. The models were constructed in relation to the detailed plans and drawings of the Holy Sepulchre drawn up at the end of the sixteenth century by a Franciscan friar, Bernardino Amico. The practical execution of these models was not the responsibility of the Franciscans, but craftsmen in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The scale models were produced in relatively large numbers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: as souvenirs for pilgrims and grand tourists, and as elaborate diplomatic gifts for rulers.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Inlaid with ivory and mother of pearl, the Northampton model is made out of shittim or shittum wood – better known today as the acacia. The shittah tree, identified with either the acacia nilotica or more usually, the acacia tortilis, can be found across the Middle East, especially in Egypt and the Sinai peninsula. It is probably from here that our model’s materials were sourced. The use of shittim wood to make the Northampton Holy Sepulchre model was not simply a question of using cheap, locally available timber. Shittim is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. It is the material from which God commanded that the Ark of the Covenant and parts of the tabernacle, including altars and holy vessels, be made in Exodus 25-27. The connection back to the Old Testament, and the sense of continuity with a lost sacred object it might provide, helps us understand why these models were so treasured.

The models were designed like Lego bricks – they could be detached and rebuilt part by part, and each individual ‘brick’ was signed with letters or numbers. Every model came with a parchment scroll detailing what each letter or number signified. This might be a bell tower, a gate, a chapel, an altar, the site of a particular tomb, or a place where the Virgin Mary stood during the Passion. In this way, one could inspect every feature of the church, remembering and imagining Jerusalem exactly how one pleased and in as much detail as desired. Nor were such scale models restricted only to the Holy Sepulchre Church. There are also surviving models of the Grotto of the Nativity and the entire Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. In this view of the south transept facade of the church, still the main public entrance of the Holy Sepulchre, you can see the attention to detail in the model. Just as it still is today, the right hand side of the door has been blocked up. The building on the right, up the tiny staircase, is the medieval Chapel of the Franks, now the tenth station of the Via Dolorosa.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

South transept facade of the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem. Source: Wikimedia Commons

South transept facade of the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem. Source: Wikimedia Commons

And on the other side of the miniature building is the Anastasis Rotunda, where the empty tomb chamber can be found.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Laura Slater

Inventorying the past: Jerusalem Franciscan Manuscripts

Michele Campopiano, University of York

Jerusalem is a place of encounters, encounters of religions, ethnicities, and also different languages and writing systems: different languages and scripts which represent no real fixed boundary, but fluid substances which melt into each other through different forms of re-elaborations. They are palimpsests which are written and re-written without deleting the multiple layers of texts on which they rest.

An archive of such palimpsests is the Library of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. The multi-centenary history of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land is materially consigned to us in the form of more than five hundred manuscripts dating from the 11th century to the present day. A recent project, based on the most advanced principles of library science, has provided modern scholars with the logic framework with which to orient themselves in this repository of fragments of memory. It is the project “Books, bridges of peace” of the European Research Centre Book Publishing Library (CRELEB) of the Catholic University of Milan.

Led by Prof. Edoardo Barbieri of the Catholic University of Milan and supported in particular by ATS pro Terra Sancta, this project has seen a team of young and bright scholar providing an online catalogue for the manuscripts, incunables, ancient and modern printed books: thanks to ​Marcello Mozzato for the manuscripts inventory, Alessandro Tedesco for the description of pilgrimage accounts and travelogues (Itinera), Emilia Bignami for the online catalogue, Luca Rivali for the catalogue of the incunables, and to the help and support of the Librarian Father Lionel Goh, these works can be seen and consulted by scholars worldwide:

This project has showed how books have served as bridges to connect cultures and languages. A visual demonstration of these connections has been given with the exhibition MFH: Manuscripta Franciscana Hierosolymitana. Selected Exhibition, where 35 manuscripts were put on display, and a catalogue was published for the occasion: MFH Manuscripta Franciscana Hierosolymitana.

On this occasion I was  invited to give a lecture on Writing the Holy Land: Manuscripts and Texts from the Franciscan Convent in Jerusalem (1333-1530 ca), where I anticipated some results of my next monograph on the Franciscans and the Holy Land in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Period. A television report on the event can be seen here.

I want to mention two manuscripts of the library which in particular exemplify this process of encounter and fusion. One is the Ms. 78, in Latin, of the first half of the 14th century. This manuscript contains several medical treatises by al-Rāzī, a Medieval Persian scientist: these works are transmitted in their 12th century Latin version by Gerard of Cremona.  It is an encounter in the form of translation, which recasts Arabic into Latin, in a manuscript then brought to the Middle East. The other example is ms. HEB. 15, an 18th century collection of medical recipes in Judeo-Arabic, Arabic written in Hebrew script.

Our journey in the Medieval and Early Modern history of Jerusalem will continue on the 9th of December, at the Royal Dutch Institute of Rome, where I have organized the seminar Shaping Christian Memories and Identities: The Franciscans in the Levant, 13th-16th century. It will take place within the framework of the NWO project I lead together with Guy Geltner (Amsterdam): Cultural Memory and Identity in the Late Middle Ages:  The Franciscans of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Representation of the Holy Land, 1333-1516, and several specialists on the topic will participate. You can view the programme here.