|Day 2: (from left to right) Stefan Heidemann, Vincenza Garofalo, Markus Ritter|
We then progressed through recent research on various aspects of the conference theme's broad spectrum, flowing chronologically and thematically. Barbara Finster highlighted the importance of Southern Arabia and its influences on Islamic architecture, a topic totally ignored by Creswell, and one which Herzfeld confessed to knowing nothing about, but sensibly indicated that it might prove to be a possible source when it was studied in depth at some later date.
As you will see from the programme, the two Samarra papers were included in this first session, with Arie Kai-Browne and Simone Struth giving a fascinating outline of Berlin's 3D visualisation project. The carved plaster panels take on a totally different form with this enhancement and you can immediately see how they would have resembled marble revetments in their original pristine state. With the crude mudbrick walls hidden by these you can easily appreciate how this vast palace city sprung to life so quickly and so impressively, achieving the Abbasid caliphs' desire to create an aura of wonderment and admiration. My paper was a brief overview of the V&A's 278-piece Samarra collection, outlining how different departments within the museum have been able to assist in conserving some of these fragments, analysing the materials employed, and how experts at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew have been able to confirm that two wood fragments are indeed teak, as stated in the written sources. (We eagerly anticipate a blog posting here on this analysis!)
|Ilsa Sturkenboom and Alexandra Plesa in foreground, Lorenz Korn, Claus-Peter Haase and others in background|