A Page on Iranian History

Iranologie.com is created by Khodadad Rezakhani, a scholar of late antiquity and the early medieval period, mostly in West and Central Asia. He created this site with a focus on Iranian history and is aiming to provide information about history and culture of Iran as well as about “Iran as a modern nation-state”.

The main feature of the website is “The History Page” which is the access point to the main content on the site about Iranian history categorized in three eras of: 1. From the Ancient Times to 650 CE, 2. From Islam to the Safavids, 3. From the Safavids to Modern Iran.

Khodadad Rezakhani, the creator of the site, has a PhD form UCLA in late antique Near East and he is a professional academic dedicated to teaching , researching and writing. He describes the reason for initiating this project as :

“However, I have a deep interest in bringing academic research to the public and find producing knowledge for purely academic audiences to be undemocratic and against the spirit of knowledge. As such, I try to engage in anyway I can, giving interviews to TV and Radio programmes and appearing on various segments dedicated to history. But more than anything, I try to use the internet, and have done so since 1996 (!) to engage, through my podcasts and my weblog, and make sure that what me and my colleagues are working on does not remain behind the locked doors of academic journals.”

Iranologie.com is host for the History of Iran podcast and history Podcast in Persian. Both podcasts cover Iranian history fro pre-Islamic to Islamic and modern ear, one in English and the latter in Persian language. Moreover, all sources and additional materials that were referenced in the podcasts can are listed on Podcast section of the site.

Iranologie: the History of Iran Podcast

In addition to the History and two valuable podcasts, recently, the author of Iranologie.com also created a new project on Twitter, “ @historianofIran, which is a rotating weekly account where different scholars of Iranian history, culture, and languages write about their work for a week at a time”.

last but not least, historical issues are discussed mostly by the author both in English and Persian in the form of a blog and can be accessed on Iranologie.com here.


Ottoman History Podcast

The Ottoman History Podcast began in 2011 and March 2021 marks its 10 years anniversary that this initiative is recording interviews with academics researching or studying the Ottoman Empire.

It started with the goal of experimenting new form of academic production by using more accessible media and a more collaborative approach. Now it is one of the largest developed  digital resources about Ottoman Empire and modern Middle East in the form of academic discussion.  

“Our recorded interviews and lectures, while still largely academic in tone, provide scholarly conversation accessible to a wider public audience.”

https://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/p/about-us.html

Chris Gratien, Producer and Co-Creator of the podcast in an interview with Bosphorus Review of Books, in response to the question of “What is The Ottoman History Podcast?” says:

Ottoman History Podcast is an internet radio program focused on the history and culture of the Ottoman Empire, modern Middle East, and Islamicate world. Since 2011, we’ve featured the work of over 300 contributors, mostly scholars and students of history and other academic disciplines. At any given time, we have more than a dozen team members equipped to record in different locations throughout the world. All of our interviews happen in person. And the project is completely independent and non-commercial. Over the years we’ve built quite a community that includes not only podcasters but also a few other web projects loosely-centered on the history of the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East”.

 For the full interview click here

On the Ottoman History Podcast’s website, information can be found in five categories of:

  Türkçe — Episodes in Turkish

  The Making of the Islamic World  — conversations about the history of Muslim societies from the 7th to 17th centuries, and each episode offers suggestion for further listening and some primary and secondary reading. 

Also one of our assistant professor of Ottoman history at McGill Institute of Islamic Studies, Aslıhan Gürbüzel,  shared her insights in three episodes in this category (1. The Early Modern Islamic World; 2. Rumi’s World; 3. Dragomans and the Routes of Orientalism)

  Deporting Ottoman Americans : “How do you deport someone whose country no longer exists? This podcast addresses this question through the stories of Middle Eastern migrants subject to deportation from the United States during the 1930s”

  The Yayla— is an internet radio program centered around various range of Turkey’s music. Each episode talks about a particular genre also covers a bit of cultural context.

Bibliographies — is a list of books and resources compiled by Heather Hughes the OHP librarian on select subject and time.

Chris Gratine in his above mentioned interview, for those who are new to this podcast, suggested to start with the episode called : Ottoman New York, where the forgotten shared history and connection between New York city and the Ottoman Empire is being discussed.

The Birzeit University Palestinian Archive Project (BZUPAP)

The Birzeit University Digital Palestinian Archive (BZUDPA) is dedicated to documenting the life of Palestinians and their institutions over the past century.

“The mission is thus an open archive dedicated to long-term preservation and to liberation: it is a reliable counter-archive of the Palestinian people.”

The archive is being preserved at The Birzeit University. Received documents from organizational collections, private family documents and archival materials collected by individuals, are organized, categorized, and uploaded to the online archive.

The archived materials will assist interested persons and researchers in understanding Palestinian society and the lives of Palestinians.

What distinguishes BZUPAP is the chronological, spatial and topical diversity of its holdings. Documents collected include the most diverse types of written and audiovisual materials (texts, photographs, videos, recordings)

Images
Maps
Textual

With a clear indication regarding the donor and the source, the archive primary documents consist of: 17000 documents are already uploaded on the website, 30000 documents are in progress of uploading, 7000 documents are being translated from the Ottoman language.

As for the Special documents, there are newspapers since 1909, Old post cards, documents from the Arab National Committee since 1948 and Ottoman documents in Arabic

The user-friendly website provides easy access to its Arabic and English language materials. The digital archive is an essential source for the history, politics and culture of the Palestinian people.

Mouse & Manuscript

Mouse and Manuscript is a free online collection of codicology and paleography lessons in a form of an innovative online “textbook”. Mouse and Manuscript is created by researchers and librarians at Leiden University, using rich and outstanding collection of Oriental manuscripts at Leiden University.

According to Dictionary of English Manuscript terminology:

“‘Codicology’ denotes the study of manuscript books, or codices, in all aspects, including their physical structure, texts, script, binding, decoration, and other features of their production.” *

“’Paleography’ denotes the study of handwriting and of the history of scripts. It involves such practices as the analysis and description of old manuscripts, the deciphering of texts, the dating and identification of hands and scripts, and recognition of the place of origin of a manuscript and of the scribal practices and conventions represented in it.” **

These lessons are offered in an interactive fashion and the goal is to teach various aspects of codicology and paleography. Moreover, by analyzing historical traces in the digitized manuscripts used in this collection, these lessons are trying to show case methods of book making prior to printing press. So far 53 lessons are released and  some of the titles are as follow:

The Manuscripts used in this online textbook are in Arabic, Persian, …. and from Middle East, East Asia, Africa and beyond.

Each lesson consists of several parts, such as an overview of the the manuscript, discussing the specification of the document, transcription and transliteration of the content, and more importantly, fully high resolution digitized manuscript, with the possibility of zooming and turning pages.

Damage and protectionLESSON 7 – DR. DORRIT VAN DALEN

At the end of each lesson a list of more relevant readings and resources as are given well as some assignments/homework.

Dorrit van Dalen initiated Mouse and Manuscript, created and edited several lessons (2, 12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 51) and launched the website in 2020. All other contributor and creators of the lessons are linked to Leiden University through their researches, to learn more about individuals involve in this project click here.

McGill Islamic Studies Library also have various resources on Codicology and Paleography that can be searched and found via library catalogue . some of the titles are as follow:

  • Comparative oriental manuscript studies : an introduction, by Alessandro Bausi, Eugenia Sokolinski, Pier Giorgio Borbone 2015 , Link to the library here.
  • علم الاكتناه العربي الإسلامي = Arabic Islamic palaeography [sic] and codicologyʻIlm al-iktināh al-ʻArabī al-Islāmī = Arabic Islamic palaeography and codicology, by تصنيف قاسم السامرائي., سامرائي، قاسم . 2001. Link to the library here.
  • Writings and writing : investigations in Islamic text and script : in honour of Dr Januarius Justus Witkam, Professor of Codicology and Palaeography of the Islamic world at Leyden University, by Robert M Kerr 1968- (Editor), Thomas Milo (Editor), Jan Just Witkam 1945- (Honouree.) 2013. Link to the library here.

* Beal, P. (2008). codicology. In A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology 1450–2000. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2021, from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199576128.001.0001/acref-9780199576128-e-0184.

**Beal, P. (2008). palaeography. In A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology 1450–2000. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2021, from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199576128.001.0001/acref-9780199576128-e-0718

The Digital Orientalist

The Digital Orientalist is an online magazine focusing on digital humanities applied to the large field of “Oriental” studies. It was founded in 2013 by a McGill Institute of Islamic Studies alumn, L.W. Cornelis van Lit, who has been using “computer-supported-solutions” in his own research on post-classical Islamic philosophy for years.

Our name The Digital Orientalist, may raise an eyebrow. We are all fully aware of the contentious meaning of ‘Orientalism’ and its relation to colonialism. We are of the opinion that enough years have gone by to pick this name up again, to convey in one word the relation between our fields of studies. In this sense we mirror similar initiatives like The Digital Classicist, The Digital Medievalist, The Digital Humanist, etc.” Excerpt from the “About” page of The Digital Orientalist.

Today, The Digital Orientalist is run by an editorial team of twenty scholars, librarians, and students sharing their thoughts on digital tools, and practical experiences using them in the Humanities. The blog format allows visitors to access publications either by geographical areas or by topic. Areas covered are:

As for topics, they range from digitization to textual analysis, passing by archiving, data visualization, digital cartography, coding, etc.:

In sum, The Digital Orientalist provides not only informed insight on digital tools, but also practical guidance as to how using them to best support the study, teaching and research in “Oriental” studies. As such, it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Digital Humanities and Area Studies, in particular those cited above.

For news and updates, please see Twitter and Facebook:

Two valuable collections of Islamic materials @Library of Congress

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The Library of Congress houses, preserves, collects and makes accessible numerous valuable and historical materials from across the globe in different languages, forms and subjects, this includes  a noteworthy collection of rare Persian language materials. This collection is part of the “African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED) and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division” and includes various rare materials of early print books, lithographic books and manuscripts.

Qurʼān. [1739 or 1740, 1739] Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2017406495/>.

Sūrat al-Qāf. [18th Century] Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2017498316/>.

According to the Library of Congress most materials in this collection was acquired in 1930s through a well-known dealer in fine Islamic and Near Eastern arts, Kirkor Minassian. This acquisition includes rare manuscripts and books in Arabic, Persian, Armenian and Turkish language, however the rare Persian language collection grew beyond Minassain acquisitions as the library continued to acquire more materials from other sources as well as to receive rare collections in a form of donation from generous people.

Ṣāfī, Aḥmad Rashīd, Scribe, Ibrāhīm AdʹHam Gharbaldah Balawī, and Charles C McVicker. Qurʼān
. [18–?] Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2010471600/>

This collection consists of materials in different subject and disciplines from the entire Middle East. However, literary works and historical lithographs makes up for much of the collection.

“A number of these items are exquisitely illuminated anthologies of poetry by classic and lesser known poets, written in fine calligraphic styles, and illustrated with miniatures. Many also have beautiful bindings. A number of the illuminated books are multilingual works, which include Arabic and Turkish passages in addition to Persian, focusing on scientific, religious – philosophical and literary topics, and others are holy books important to all confessional traditions within the Islamic world.”

In 2014 in an exhibition, called “A Thousand Years of the Persian Book” that was held by The Library’s Near East Section, 40 items of rare Persian collection were shown to the public, this exhibition led to a digitization project in 2015. As a result of this ongoing project up until now 169 lithographs of the Collection are digitized and made available.

This beautifully organized collection can be accessed here. Each record provides access to a digitized format of the item as well as a description about the item such as a physical account, bibliographic information and when available summary of the content.

In addition to the abovementioned collection, Library of Congress also provided to a large collection of Arabic script calligraphy sheets from 9th to 19th century. 373 calligraphy sheets can be browsed online which mainly consist of fragments of Quran written on paper or parchment.

Access the collection here.

This beautiful collection also provides detail description for each item as well as script of the presented sheet, calligraphic style, date and physical account of the item. This collection also includes a section of Special Presentations:
Calligraphers of the Persian Tradition
Ottoman Calligraphers and Their Works
Qur’anic Fragments
Noteworthy Items

Khamseen Islamic Art History Online

Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online is a brand new open-access platform making available Islamic art, architecture, and visual culture resources primarily to support the interactive learning and teaching of Islamic art history, and in particular educators “who face limited access to institutional and archival resources”, but also to “educate and inspire interested audiences outside of academia”.

This very promising platform was launched in October 2020 under the supervision of Christiane Gruber, Professor of Islamic art at the University of Michigan. The project received financial support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is sponsored by the  Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum (DISC) at the University of Michigan.

At the time of our visit, Khamseen included a series of ten to fifteen minutes-long video presentations focusing on a variety of topics: Persian miniatures, Mosques architecture, textile in traditional Tentmaking, etc. To date, no less than twenty-five international Islamic art history specialists contributed to the the platform.

Additional resources included the following:

A selection of Teaching Resources for Islamic Art

An Audio and Video Recording Tools Guide

The recording of a 90-minutes Discussion of Online Resources for Teaching Islamic Art between Khamseen founder Christiane Gruber, Ruba Kan’an (Assistant Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, University of Toronto), Michael Toler (Archnet Content Manager, Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT), and Matt Saba (Visual Resources Librarian for Islamic Architecture at the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT)

Further developments of Khamseen will focus on: “(…) expand[ing] the range of subjects and materials to provide a rich repository of resources in the realm of digital Islamic humanities, [and] (…) expand[ing] the project’s accessibility and foster a global audience through closed captioning and providing content in multiple languages [seeking] to take the study of Islamic art out to the world, reaching a truly international level of engagement and learning thanks to the possibilities of integrated digital technologies.”

Interested people can find more information about the platform or follow future developments on social media: @khamseenislamicart (Instagram), @TeamKhamseen (Twitter), @KhamseenIslamicArt (Facebook).

Islamic Art @Victoria and Albert Museum

Victoria and Albert museum (V&A) of art and design’s collection contains over 2.3 million objects showcasing 5000 years of human art and creativity. The Museum’s collection consists of UK’s national as well as international collections. These collections contain wide range of resources for learning, research and study of various topics such as: architecture, book arts, sculpture, Asian art and design and etc.

Since the beginning of the V&A in 1850’s and when Queen Victoria laid the first stone of the Museum in 1899, Museum’s mission has been to provide tools and ways of learning and engaging with their collection. Moreover, building an excellent collection with global relevance and attracting international audiences and collections has always been part of their mission; therefore, V&A collected various outstanding resources and examples of human art and creativity from around the world. 

In that regard, the V&A houses a great collection of Islamic art, which holds more than 19000 artifacts and items from early Islamic era to early twentieth century from Middle East and North Africa.  This great collection usually can be visited in the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art, however, now that due to COVID-19 situation the Gallery is closed, the highlight of this collection is accessible digitally and can be found here.

This very well organized collection also provides exclusive information about the item’s history, place, date, material, techniques that were used in creation of the objects.

V&A Museum has a rich collection of South Asian artifacts which is described as: “The collections from South and South-East Asia comprise nearly 60,000 objects, including about 10,000 textiles and 6,000 paintings covering the Indian subcontinent south of the Himalayas, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The range of the collection is immense.”

South Asian Collection Highlights

Calligraphy as an astonishing form of Islamic Art also made its way to V&A collection and can be visited here, also at the end of the page a slideshow of different objects of the collection featuring beautiful work of calligraphy from different style, era and techniques.

“Tray featuring a calligraphic script, 1330 – 60, possibly Syria or Egypt, brass. Museum no. 420-1854. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London”

KITAB : Knowledge, Information Technology, and the Arabic Book

Based at the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations at the Agha Khan University, in London U.K., KITAB is a project including both a searching tool for the textual exploration of the medieval Arabic written heritage, and an online discussion forum on Arabic texts. Since its creation in 2017, KITAB received funding from the Aga Khan University, the British Academy and the European Research Council.

Under the guidance of the principal investigator, Sarah Bowen Savant -cultural historian of the Middle East and Iran between 600-1500 A.D. and professor at AKU-ISMC- and the Advisory Board composed of eight international leading scholars in the fields of Islamic, Persian and Arabic studies, KITAB team of twenty-one scholars and computing specialists and five partners work relentlessly to develop new capabilities (i.e visualization tools, Optical Recognition Character, etc.)

The searching tool developed by KITAB team is able to detect proper names occurrences within a large corpus uncovering the complex relationships between medieval Arab authors and how ideas and knowledge circulated throughout the Arab World across time. The most recent developments have focused on the gathering of statistics on the reuse of ideas across the tradition including “the extent and precision of reuse.”

The KITAB corpus of Arabic texts produced between the eighth century and the fifteenth century A.D. largely comes from the Open Islamicate Texts Initiative, another collaborative project of Sarah Bowen Savant, Maxim Romanov and Matthew Thomas Miller. KITAB corpus is continually growing  in order “to increase both the number and the diversity of texts.”

Anyone can use KITAB corpus and searching tool. The Our Pilot page provides a brief overview of the data and tools created by KITAB. One of the goals of the project is to “bring all of [their] data and sources into the public domain and with the field to take best advantage of what digital technology now allows […] to see and to discover.”

For regular updates on the project you can check the Blog, the What’s New page, and Professor Savant’s Twitter account.