Start Islam and dating lecture

Islam and dating lecture

Covering and Re-Covering: Exploring the Codicological Evidence for Historical Repair, Recycling, and Re-Covering Phenomena in the Bindings of Islamic Manuscripts Date: Tuesday, 24 March 2015, 18.30 (Registration required)Venue: Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD, United Kingdom Much of the history of a book is reflected in its binding.

In the Middle East somehow printing was missed as an agent of change, but in the world of Islam paper is no doubt at the basis of the scientific revolution of the 9th and 10th centuries, and the size of Islamic manuscript culture is astounding by any standard.

The stories about the transition period between writing and printing books rather illustrate a fascinating stage in Western thinking about Muslim culture. The availability of paper suddenly made it possible to register memories of all sorts and also to do that on a grand scale.

With paper so much more became possible, because it is a durable medium that is easy and inexpensive to produce, and it could be easily recycled into new paper.

These stories, and the questions which they try to answer, are the subject of the lecture. When more than two thousand years ago the Chinese, to whom we owe this invention, first started to produce and use paper, they had been writing already for several thousands of years, but on less flexible and durable materials: bones, bamboo stalks, stone, metals and ceramic.

Whether or not there exists an unequivocal answer to the problem of the late introduction of printing in Muslim societies remains to be seen. And they were not the only ones: the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations are there to prove it.

At the same time letters and archives preserve innumerable memories of human relationships, both official and personal.

The approaching end of all this has been announced for the past thirty years, as if it were a sort of millennium bug (‘the end of the book as we know it’). Far less durable mediums are increasingly taking over the role of paper, and from a triumphant material it is suddenly becoming something of an endangered species.

While it may be difficult to establish a dating and provenance for a particular binding and its repairs, the investigator with an inclination for forensics may find traces of the original production, the creative reuse and recycling of older materials, wear and damage in the course of use, travel or environmental exposure, and subsequent conservation treatments and repairs.