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Abstracts

Dionysios Stathakopoulos (KCL) Acculturation, Transfer, Exchange: Contextualizing the transmission of knowledge in the medieval Levant This paper will offer an introduction to the topic of this workshop by surveying the history of research on the transcultural transmission of knowledge in the Levant. Past models that assumed a hegemonic culture imposing itself in colonialist fashion on others we are now moving to more inclusive and dynamic models that explore questions of hybridity and transmission in- interaction.

Mohamed Ouerfelli (Université d'Aix-Marseille) La circulation des savoirs techniques en Orient : l'exemple de la production du sucre Le transfert des techniques de production du sucre de l’Orient vers le monde méditerranéen reste un épisode peu étudié du fait du manque de documentation et du peu d’intérêt manifesté par les historiens, notamment des techniques. Or, l’Orient méditerranéen a constitué un centre de diffusion des maîtres et des techniques sucrières. Les Égyptiens prétendent avoir enseigné aux autres peuples l’art de raffiner le sucre. Cette communication examine les modalités de transfert et de circulation des techniques de production en Égypte, en Terre sainte, en Syrie et dans le royaume de Chypre. Le rôle des déplacements des hommes occupe dans cette chaine de transmission une place de choix ; ces hommes, qui se déplacent d’une extrémité à l’autre de la Méditerranée, véhiculent un savoir faire, qui s’enrichit à travers les siècles. Ils sont les vecteurs de la circulation des techniques industrielles.

Carmen Caballero-Navas (University of Granada) The impact of the Arabic and Christian medical traditions in the formation of the Hebrew corpus of medicine. (Sefer ha-yosher: A major source)

The Greek-to-Arabic translation movement that got under way in the East around the mid- eighth century, which inaugurated an enriching process of transmitting and appropriating Greek science and philosophy in a multicultural context, had a considerable impact on Jewish culture. However, Jews, who had been quick to adopt the Arabic language and cultural model, did not play an important role in this enterprise of translation, although some did collaborate in the diffusion, re-elaboration, and adaptation of Greek philosophy and science. Besides, the widespread use of Arabic makes it difficult to ascertain the texts and authors most appreciated by the Jews and to identify the books they owned or used.

This state of affairs changed during the second half of the twelfth century, when medical and scientific texts began to be written in Hebrew, in the Christian lands of the western Mediterranean. This turning point occurred as part of the encounter between two distinct Jewish cultures, when Jews from al-Andalus, who had moved to the northern Iberian Peninsula and the south of France, where the Jewish cultural language was Hebrew, transmitted to their co-religionists the wealth of Greco-Arabic knowledge of which they had been previously unaware.

Following this pattern, the Hebrew medical corpus was built predominantly on translations, both from Arabic and from Latin, although many of the latter were also made from Arabic. Growing over the following three centuries, this translation enterprise seems to have offered an adequate response to the needs of both Jewish students of medicine and practicing physicians, and become a significant source of knowledge transfer.

Although the volume of original work was much smaller than that of translations, original medical texts also were written. Sefer ha-Yosher is a comprehensive Hebrew encyclopaedia of contemporary medical knowledge written in Provence, some time around the last decades of the thirteenth century, by an unknown but highly educated medical author who apparently also benefited from abundant clinical experience. He seems very familiar with the medical learning circulating in his milieu, as the book draws from numerous sources translated into Hebrew from Latin as well as from Arabic. He also shared some of his contemporaries’ concerns regarding medical practice, and expressed in his work his opinions on cross-religious medical interactions. These and other related features render this encyclopaedia a particularly appropriate means to explore the role of medical texts as channels that led to the formation of a Jewish scientific culture by accommodating scientific and philosophical ideas produced by others.

This paper discusses the role of Hebrew medicine in knowledge transfer by analyzing the sources of Sefer ha-yosher, and its author’s stance regarding practice across-religious lines.

Petros Bouras-Vallianatos (KCL) Oriental influences in Nicholas Myrepsos’ Dynameron Nicholas Myrepsos is considered to be the author of the Dynameron, the first Byzantine pharmacological work sensu stricto, which is still unedited and only accessible in a Latin edition by Leonhart Fuchs from 1549 (Basel). Nicholas is traditionally identified with the Nicholas, who was chief physician at the court of John III Doukas Vatatzes (1222 1254) in 1241 (Akropolites, Annales, 63.13-15). However, this identification is not confirmed by any cross- reference to the Dynameron, in which the identity of the author remains somewhat unclear. The work consists of 2,656 recipes, arranged alphabetically in 24 classes according to the various pharmaceutical forms and seems to have been composed at the end of the thirteenth century. The author draws lots of recipes from contemporary Latin antidotaria such as the twelfth- century Salernitan Antidotarius Magnus seu Universalis and the less extensive, early thirteenth- century Antidotarium Nicolai, but also from texts of clearly Greek origin such as Paul of Aegina (seventh century) and Metrodora (seventh century?). However, we can trace a large number of oriental influences either in the form of ingredients or pharmaceutical dosage forms. In my paper, I would like to explore Nicholas’ oriental sources by comparing and contrasting contemporary texts produced by Byzantine medical authors, but also Greek and Latin translations of Arabic medical works by using the earliest surviving manuscript, codex Parisinus gr. 2243, dated to 1339. Such an exploration should highlight connections between the various texts and contribute to the wider debate of knowledge transmission in the field of late Byzantine pharmacology. On another level, it could help us to understand the development of oriental techniques for preparing various pharmaceutical dosage forms such as distillation, as well as patterns of contemporary trade and commerce. Finally, it will contribute to the precise dating of the work and the identification of the Greek compiler.

Rustam Shukurov (Moscow University) Foreign Languages in Late Byzantium: an Instrument of Knowledge? In the Byzantine model of identity of the Ῥωμαῖο∋ and other nations and tribes, the language criterion played almost no role. Even in the Greek models of self-identity, the linguistic criterion was of a secondary character. Although the feeling of a certain connection between Greek identity and the Greek language survived through the ages, however, the issue of language was constantly glossed over having become a part (not always expressed explicitly) of broader concepts such as δ∋άνο∋α (‘mindset’), ἔ∈ος / ἔ∈〓 (‘habit’ and consequently ‘way of life’, ‘mindset’ or rather what we now call ‘culture’) and the like.

Due to the secondary role of language in identity patterns, the Byzantines were not concerned with the problem of learning foreign languages. Byzantine intellectualism never problematized the idea of foreign language as a cognitive tool. The learning of foreign languages and their use in the Byzantine space was unsystematic, random and purely utilitarian. One of the remarkable manifestations of this indifference to foreign languages is the fact that there, in Byzantium, did not exist any tradition of bilingual and multilingual dictionaries (with the exception of Greek-Latin lexicons), which were so widespread in the Muslim Orient, Slavic World and Western Europe. Most translators in Byzantine cultural space were bilingual either foreign immigrants or repatriated Greeks; we know only few native Byzantines who by this or that reason acquired the knowledge of a foreign language and used it in literary activity. The noted indifference to foreign languages corresponds to the generic self-sufficiency of Byzantine culture and its clear disinterest in obtaining information from foreign sources.

Julius Morche (KCL) “The Political Dimensions of Venetian Merchant Networks” This paper investigates the role of Venetian mercantile correspondence as a medium of political communication. Through a textual analysis of the commercial letters of a Venetian family coalition that comprised by means of consanguineous and marital bonds members of the Dolfin, Bragadin and Morosini families, it is shown that correspondence between Venetian elites written in different locations of the Venetian trading post empire in the early fifteenth century already featured an avviso-like structure that frequently contained political news in addition to personal and business information. The paper further highlights the significance of the patrician family as a long-term business arrangement and thus as a principal pillar of political communication networks: large-scale political developments and events were frequently reported in patrician letters, thus providing valuable insights into the perception of macro-political developments from a micro-historical perspective. The sources also bear testament to the significance of elite communication in the political process with respect to the distribution of political offices and the maintenance of political institutions.

Christine Gadrat-Ouerfelli Contacts et circulation des textes en Orient autour de la cinquième croisade

À l’époque de la cinquième croisade, on assiste à un foisonnement de nouveaux textes relatifs à l’Orient. L’apparition de la lettre du Prêtre Jean, qui est antérieure (elle est datée d’environ 1165), peut-être considérée comme l’origine de ce mouvement. Mais on assiste à une multiplication de nouvelles informations dans les années 1210-1230, dans le contexte de la préparation, puis du déroulement de la cinquième croisade. Le point commun qui unit ces textes est leur origine orientale ; certains ont vraisemblablement été composés dans les milieux chrétiens orientaux avant d’être transmis aux Francs de Terre sainte ou aux croisés, comme la Relatio de Davide. D’autres sont des lettres, comme celles de Jacques de Vitry, qui se fait l’écho des rumeurs circulant alors en Orient, ou d’autres lettres moins connues et moins bien identifiées mentionnant les débuts de l’arrivée des Mongols. On peut rattacher au même contexte et à la même problématique un texte en grande partie inédit, que j’intitule provisoirement « Lettre du patriarche de Jérusalem à Innocent III », qui contient une description des possessions des princes ayyoubides à la veille de la cinquième croisade. Les années qui encadrent la cinquième croisade et les débuts des conquêtes mongoles constituent un moment d’émergence d’une certaine curiosité pour l’Orient, qui se marque par l’apparition de nouveaux textes et leur rapide diffusion en Occident.

Ioanna Rapti (KCL) Short sight or strange script? Visual impact of changes in transmission The portraits of the evangelists are the commonest and most numerous category of images of authors we have from the Middle Ages. Despite their standardized depictions they are known to reflect realities of the scribal material culture in the depiction of utensils and furnishing. Sometimes, evangelists are depicted with a scroll displaying an illegible script - possibly evoking the Hebrew language and thus corroborating the historicity of the translation of the Gospels. This pseudo-oriental script, quite rare in Middle Byzantine manuscripts, is sometimes replaced by more or less correct - Latin in the books found on the evangelist’s lectern. The depiction of this foreign or strange script may also be associated with a seemingly painful posture that may be due to the tiredness of the eyes or even shortsightedness. These images may echo the cognitive difficulty of shifting between languages and scripts as well as a new interest in optics and eye diseases.