Tag Archives: Anatolia

Taking architectural history to the bridge: International Bridges Group inaugural meeting report

The study of architecture largely focuses on the study of buildings: constructions with their most essential function as shelter for the human body. But architectural history can forget that constructions with other functions are also ripe for interpretation of their structure and ideologies. This is what the ambitiously-named International Bridges Group intends to promote for crossings of all kinds, but beginning with a focus upon the medieval. Hence we at MedievalArtResearch.com were invited to their inaugural meeting at Westminster Hall on the banks of the Thames, followed by a day of in-depth (hopefully not literally) investigation of medieval bridges in the Nene and Great Ouse valleys. It as an opportunity to experience the fledgling sub-discipline of gephyrology: a neologism which currently only returns fifty results on Google.

Delegates assembled under the flying buttress of Westminster Hall

As the current writer specialises on ecclesiastical architecture, one thing that emerged in the day in Westminster Hall was how similar working on the English bridge is to studying English parish church. Opening lectures from John Blair and John Chandler established thinking about English bridges is closely linked to unravelling the origins and operation of the English parochial system. Many current bridges can be traced back to the increasing importance of kingdoms in the late eighth century, and the establishment of centres of power. Just like churches, sometimes the opportunity to build a bridge was seized upon by institutions, monastic, parochial or secular to make a powerful architectural statement. Equally, institutions could be less responsible: maintenance neglected and pontage tolls embezzled.

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David Harrison addresses delegates

Also like English churches, English bridges are uniquely weird and wonderful in equal measure. John P. Allan showed us, via the Exe bridge at Exeter, how independent masons may have been happy to meet in the middle with rounded and pointed arches; while Peter Cross Rudkin showed the English fondness for soffit ribs under the arches, akin to the complicated mouldings of English churches. The rib may have originally had a functional purpose centring the arch before it was built up: especially important for a rounded arch that cannot support itself. But since the ribs are often spaced wider than the length of the stones on top, it would appear that they have assumed the status of a skeuomorph: a decorative form derived from a practical necessity. Having a bridge that had distinctively bridge-like forms was clearly as essential as its structural practicality.

Jana Gajdošová and the tower of the Charles Bridge, Prague

Jana Gajdošová and the tower of the Charles Bridge, Prague

Just as a church spire provided an opportunity to dominate the sky, a bridge provided a powerful opportunity to assert ideology through these unique architectural semiotics. Susan Irvine used Anglo-Saxon literature to consider the bridge as a liminal space: a meeting point between two places. The potential of using this category of space was explored by Jana Gajdošová and Gerrit Jasper Schenk, both presenting papers on bridges rebuilt after disaster. The Gothic Charles Bridge in Prague, with its enormous bridge-tower and scheme of regal architectural sculpture, Jana showed to be a powerful expression of the megalomaniacal ambition of the Holy Roman Emperor. Gerrit compared the rebuilt Ponte Vecchio to the Florentine Bapistery: a pagan monument to Mars reclaimed for John the Baptist, expressed through inscriptions that speak of the enlightened commune of the city.

The final session brought us to how the established concept of a bridge worked in larger societal concepts: Jacopo Turchetto took us to medieval Anatolia, demonstrating how magnificent Ottoman bridges represented much older meeting places of travelling caravans. Roberta Magnusson and David Harrison both gave rich lectures about the bridge in the frameworks of English urban infrastructure and society that proved vital for enlightened conversation on the group’s trip out the Nene and Great Ouse Valleys the next day.

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Great Barford, Bedfordshire

Great Barford (Bedfordshire), c.1428

After an early Sunday-morning start, the first bridge the delegates encountered was Great Barford in Bedfordshire, dated by a major bequest of 1428. Much of the problem of looking at bridges is that, unlike a building, it faces not just the usual climatic elements, but also heavy traffic, perpetually flowing water, and wandering boats. Therefore it is inevitable that they fail and are rebuilt. Great Barford was also slightly spoiled by the 1874 widening – a common solution to the problem of increasing road traffic in the Modern age – here achieved by building out the bridge on the west side with a brick refacing.

Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire

Irthlingborough (Northamptonshire), 13th or 14th century

Many medieval bridges are isolated from the main traffic flow: Irthlingborough now has a rather precarious-looking 1930s concrete Art-Deco bypass running alongside it. But in the Middle Ages it was a main road: therefore it was an inevitable structure unlike the grand statement at Great Barford, and probably with much earlier origins. Ditchford, on the other hand, had no such modern rerouting and was very much in use, with signal lights controlling the two-way traffic not used to a group of architectural historians examining its structure (see featured image). This bridge, made largely of attractively-tinged ironstone, was funded by the two parishes of which it lay on the boundary line: charmingly expressed on the central cutwater by the symbols of churches’ dedicatees, St Peter and St Catherine.

Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire

Huntingdon to Godmanchester bridge, corbel table, c.1300-20

Two major urban bridges finished the trip. The very handsome bridge over the Great Ouse outside Huntingdon, called ‘lately built’ in 1322, reveals at close inspection its English eccentricities: different mouldings, designs and widths for every arch. It has the most attractive feature of a trefoil-arched corbel table, very much confirming the early-fourteenth-century date, which may have marked the place of a bridge chapel. Very few of these survived the Reformation: Wakefield, Rotherham, Bradford-upon-Avon and St Ives being the exception. However, we found the chapel over the Great Ouse locked, but had plenty to admire in the St Ives bridge itself: built in the 1420s at the behest of some generous Benedictines.

St Ives, Huntingdonshire

St Ives bridge and chapel, 1420s

While very rich and informative, this meeting established only mere stepping stones to the establishment of gephyrology as an active discipline. If you are a budding gephyrologist, especially of the medieval period (or at least, initially, hanging around with a bunch of medievalists) and would be interested in attending future meetings of this research group, then email Jana Gajdošová with your name, institutional affiliation and a brief description of your studies.

For the full resumé of pictures of the day (including cheeky opportunistic solo church visits) see the Flickr set.

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Call for participants: Koç University RCAC’s Summer Programs 2014

unnamed1. Being the center of magnificent empires through time, İstanbul is calling you to discover its rich cultural heritage by following the footmarks of saints, sultans and angels in this enriching summer seminar. Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations is excited to invite you to have a taste of İstanbul with its intellectual, in-depth program developed by world renowned Ottoman and Byzantine academicians.

2. Prof. Robert Ousterhout (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Tolga Uyar (University of Paris I), with the contribution of some esteemed faculty members from Koç University, will present Cappadocia through a combination of lectures, seminar discussions, site visits and field trips. A camera, sturdy walking shoes and a taste of exploration are essential!

3. “Introduction to Ottoman Epigraphy” focuses on surveying the development of the Ottoman inscriptions from a chronological standpoint starting with the earliest examples in Anatolia. The program will take place in Istanbul and there will be a field trip to Bursa to study inscriptions of critical historical importance in situ. The program will be leaded by experts in the field from University of Chicago.

http://rcac.ku.edu.tr/summerprograms

Call for papers: Eating Anatolia: Remembered Histories and Forgotten Foods

Tabgha - A Byzantine mosaic of the basket of loaves and fishes next to the altar of the Church of th

First we eat, then we do everything else.”  – MFK Fisher

Koç University’s department of Archaeology and History of Art is pleased to announce “Eating Anatolia: Remembered Histories and Forgotten Foods,” its second annual Graduate Student Symposium, May 3rd, 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Few aspects of our shared human experience are more fundamental than food.  The act of preparing, serving and eating food in both historic and contemporary contexts spans low and high culture, encompassing social and cultural practices. Food functions as utility and pleasure, exposing social dynamics between producers and consumers and the wealth of material and cultural references that can be drawn from these interactions.  In its breadth and diversity, the topic presents a provocative opportunity to examine this most basic feature of history from a multi-disciplinary perspective, remembering that there is no single narrative to explain the story of food over time.

This symposium seeks to encourage a diverse range of perspectives and disciplines concerned with a span of topics, areas and periods as they relate to food and food production in Anatolia and its surrounding regions, including agriculture, feasting, cooking methods and technologies, and food culture manifested in migration and exchange.  Fellow graduate students are encouraged to consider alternative perspectives and how they contribute to a richer understanding of food-related practices and implications in Anatolia from the earliest prehistory until the end of the Ottoman Empire.

All graduate students are encouraged to apply.

Applicants should submit a 250-word abstract by March 6, 2014 to arhasymposium@gmail.com

For other questions contact arhasymposium@gmail.com or visit http://www.facebook.com/ARHAsymposium.

Encompassing Anatolia and its surrounding regions, suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Food production and agriculture
  • Domestication of crops and animals
  • Wine and viticulture
  • Tools and technologies
  • Hunting and/or cooking tools
  • Cooking methods
  • Preservation
  • Ingredients, recipes and diets
  • Spices and their distribution
  • Feasting and rituals
  • Visual or textual representation of food
  • Migration and trade
  • Food and preparation methods as cultural heritage and intangible heritage
  • Architecture as related to food production, distribution and consumption
  • Tea and Coffee traditions and culture

Call for Papers: Eating Anatolia: Remembered Histories and Forgotten Foods

ARHAPoster2Eating Anatolia: Remembered Histories and Forgotten Foods
Koç University Department of Archaeology and History of Art’s
2nd annual Graduate Student Symposium, May 3, 2014 in Istanbul.

“First we eat, then we do everything else.” MFK Fisher

 Koç University’s department of Archaeology and History of Art is pleased to announce “Eating Anatolia: Remembered Histories and Forgotten Foods”. Few aspects of our shared human experience are more fundamental than food. The act of preparing, serving and eating food in both historic and contemporary contexts spans low and high culture, encompassing social and cultural practices. Food functions as utility and pleasure, exposing social dynamics between producers and consumers and the wealth of material and cultural references that can be drawn from these interactions. In its breadth and diversity, the topic presents a provocative opportunity to examine this most basic feature of history from a multi-disciplinary perspective, remembering that there is no single narrative to explain the story of food over time.

This symposium seeks to encourage a diverse range of perspectives and disciplines concerned with a span of topics, areas and periods as they relate to food and food production in Anatolia and its surrounding regions, including agriculture, feasting, cooking methods and technologies, and food culture manifested in migration and exchange. Fellow graduate students are encouraged to consider alternative perspectives and how they contribute to a richer understanding of food-related practices and implications in Anatolia from the earliest prehistory until the end of the Ottoman Empire. Anatolia and surrounding regions from prehistory to the end of the Ottoman Empire, suggested topics include:

– Food production & agriculture Domestication of crops and animals
– Wine & viticulture
– Tools & technologies
– Ingredients, recipes and diets
– Spices and their distribution
– Feasting & rituals
– Visual or textual representation of food
– Migration & trade
– Food as cultural heritage
– Architecture related to food production and distribution

Applicants should submit a 250-word abstract by February 14th, 2014 to: arhasymposium@gmail.com Graduate students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply.

 

Call for Papers: Embodied Identities: Figural and Symbolic Representation of the Self in Anatolia (Istanbul 2014)

Call for Papers:
Embodied Identities: Figural and Symbolic Representation of the Self in Anatolia
Istanbul, 7-8 June 2014
Deadline: Feb 10 2014

koc_logoThis two-day workshop will be hosted at the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, Koç University, in Taksim. The organizers invite the submission of abstracts presenting excavation data relating to identity, territoriality and artistic expression of Anatolian personalities or groups, as well as investigations into the creation and manipulation of identity through material culture. The focus of the first day will be on theoretical and methodological approaches to identity in prehistoric Anatolia, while the second day will be open to papers concerning identity and self at any time period in Anatolian studies.

The main objective of the workshop is to investigate the embodiment of identity markers in literal and representative media; such as mortuary practices, personalization of tools, location of petroglyphs, and changing contexts of settlement planning. The archaeological focus of this workshop will enhance our perspectives on the relations between the self-determination of ancient Anatolians and their material context in Anatolia.

Abstracts of 300 words or fewer should be sent to ehughes@ku.edu.tr no later than midnight on February 10, 2014.