New book: Comentarios de la Embaxada al Rey Xa Abbas de Persia (1614-1624)

Don García de Silva y Figueroa
Comentarios de la Embaxada al Rey Xa Abbas de Persia (1614-1624)
Rui Manuel Loureiro, Ana Cristina Costa Gomes & Vasco Resende (eds.)

Estudos e Documentos 9 (volume 1)
Lisbon, Centro de História de Além-Mar, 2011
ISBN 978-989-8492-08-1
380 pp.

The Centro de História de Além-Mar is proud to announce the publishing of the first part of Don García de Silva y Figueroa’s report on his embassy to the court of Shah ‘Abbas I  between 1614 and 1624. The appearance of this volume follows the one containing the studies on the same subject, already reported in our blog at

For more information, visit:

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Call for Papers: volume 3 (2012)

    The Centro de História de Além-Mar is now open to proposals for articles to be published in the third volume of Res Antiquitatis. Journal of Ancient History, forthcoming in the current year of 2012. All papers will be subject to a peer review process.
The main area of studies about which the articles should be concerned with is Antiquity. Although available to articles on Ancient History studies proper, the Editors are especially looking forward to studies focusing on the interpretation and reception of Ancient History and its traditions in several later periods, such as the Modern Age or the Contemporary Age. Therefore, specific areas such as the Greco-Roman or the Ancient Near Eastern civilizations may constitute starting points for rich interconnections with the scholarship of other subjects and periods.
All those who wish to respond to this call for papers should consult the guidelines for contributors, as well as the description of the evaluation process   HERE.

The deadline for reception of articles is

30th April 2012.

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New book:

Rui Manuel Loureiro & Vasco Resende (eds.):
Estudos sobre Don García de Silva y Figueroa e os «Comentarios» da embaixada à Pérsia (1614-1624)

Estudos e Documentos 9 (volume 4)
Lisbon, Centro de História de Além-Mar, 2011
ISBN 978-989-8492-03-6

The Centro de História de Além-Mar – Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Universidade dos Açores (CHAM) has just published a volume of studies concerning the embassy of Don García de Silva y Figueroa, envoy of Felipe III, King of the Spanish Monarchy, to the royal court of Shah ‘Abbas I, ruler of Safavi Persia. This embassy implied a very long journey through the Orient which took place between 1614 and 1624.

Don García’s surviving works include a small text about Tamerlan, appended in the narratives of the medieval traveler Ruy González de Clavijo, the Historia del Gran Tamorlan e Itinerario e Enarración del Viaje y Relacion de la Embajada que Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo le hizo (edition of Eugénio Llaguno, 1782); and a vast epistolary corpus edited by Luis Gil in García de Silva y Figueroa. Epistolario Diplomatico (Cáceres,1989).

However, the greatest literary work of Don García is the travel journal in which he narrates his embassy to the Orient, whose manuscripts are today at the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid. This outstanding historical source is better known as Comentarios de D. Garcia de Silva y Figueroa de la embajada que de parte del rey de España don Filipe III hizo al rey Xa Abbas de Persia, title of its only complete edition so far (edited by Manuel Serrano y Sanz, 1903-1905). It was a very late contribution, since the first known, though very incomplete edition, was published in Paris (1667) by Abraham de Wicquefort.

The book we are referring to in this article constitutes the fourth part of a project conducted by CHAM to renew and stimulate the study of Don García’s work and travels, called “Relações de Portugal com a Pérsia durante a União Ibérica: os Comentarios de Don García de Silva y Figueroa” (“Relations between Portugal and Persia during the Iberian Union: the Comentarios of Don García de Silva y Figueroa), financed by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (PTDC/HAH/69734/2006).  The three other parts of the project will be published soon, and will include a new critical edition of the Comentarios (volumes 1-2, edited by Rui Loureiro and Vasco Resende) as well as a volume containing annotations, commentaries, glossaries, etc. (volume 3, coordinated by Rui Loureiro).

These studies were the result of one of the various workshops conducted within the project, which took place at Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon). Its thread is the journey of the Spanish ambassador, though their thematic range is very wide, which allows to display the enormous potential of Don Garcia’s work and other related sources for the study of 17th century’s geography, history and culture in regions where, at the time, the East and the West were constructing new dynamics that helped to shape the Modern world.

We can mention some of the topics, both general and specific, that are expounded in these articles. For example, the complex political context, which involved European courts, the Ottoman empire and the Safavi empire, with all the rivalries and convergences generated within that strategic framework; the practices that gave substance to different diplomatic traditions and languages (e.g. of European countries and of the Safavi court); the nautical aspects of the traditional maritime routes to Asia, as reported by Don García; and even some reflections about the economic, cultural and political role of the capital of the Portuguese Estado da Índia, Goa, one of the most relevant loci that served as a platform for travelling in the Middle East and through the Indian Ocean, situated along Don García de Silva y Figueroa’s itinerary.

The studies presented in this book are rather diverse. However, we must highlight a specific topic which has an indubitable relevance for the editorial line of Res Antiquitatis: the travels of Don Garcia through the lands of Persia, that allowed him to observe several ancient ruins with his own eyes, such as Persepolis. His written observations are unique because they constitute one of the first empiric reports made available to Europe about archeological realities in the Orient that one can consider as crucial as cultural references for the construction of Western and Christian civilisation. It includes drawings of stone reliefs of Persepolis, and even reproductions of Cuneiform script. Don García de Silva y Figueroa had an objective attitude towards these ancient vestiges which he confronted with his great knowledge of both Biblical and Classical cultures.

On a very fortunate coincidence, this volume came out during the conference of Professor Joaquín Córdoba in Lisbon (21st October 2011), in which this eminent researcher presented the editorial history of the Comentarios, the context surrounding the journey of Don García and also the descriptions of ancient remains he found and registered in his diary.

We are anxiously awaiting for the publication of the next volumes of this project, with the certainty that it will open new venues of research for this subject.

For more information, visit:


Luis GIL, “Biografia de don García de Silva y Figueroa”, p. 3  (“Biography of don García de Silva y Figueroa”).

Luis GIL (ed.), “La «Epistola de rebus Persarum» de don Garcia de Silva y Figueroa”, p.  61 (“The «Epistola de Rebus Persarum» of don García de Silva y Figueroa”).

Joan-Pau RUBIÉS (ed.), “«Relación de la Embaxada que hiço en Persia Don García de Silva y Figueroa» (1620) by his secretary Saulisante”, p. 135.

José Manuel GARCIA, “García de Silva y Figueroa e o contexto da sua passagem por Lisboa”, p. 173 (“García de Silva y Figueroa and the context of his passage through Lisbon”).

José Manuel Malhão PEREIRA, “Aspectos náuticos das viagens por mar de D. García de Silva y Figueroa entre 1614 e 1624”, p. 183 (“Nautical aspects of the travels by sea of D. García de Silva y Figueroa between 1614 and 1624”).

Ângela Barreto XAVIER, “Entre a curiosidade e a melancolia. Deambulações pela Goa de Don García”, p. 207 (“Between curiosity and melancholy. Wanderings about the Goa of Don García”).

Carla Alferes PINTO, “Presentes ibéricos e ‘goeses’ para ‘Abbas I: a produção e consumo de arte e os presentes oferecidos ao Xá da Pérsia por D. García de Silva y Figueroa e D. frei Aleixo de Meneses”, p. 245 (“Iberian and ‘goese’ presentes for ‘Abbas I: the production and consumprion of art and the presents offered to the Shah of Persia by D. García de Silva y Figueroa and D. frei Aleixo de Meneses”).

Willem FLOOR, “At the royal court of Shah ‘Abbas I (1589-1629)”, p. 279.

Vasco RESENDE, “Itinéraires et voyageurs portugais en Perse safavide”, p. 299.

Caroline MAWER, “Travelling in Safavid Persia : Following in the footsteps of Don D. García de Silva y Figueroa”, p. 313.

Francisco CARAMELO, “Visões da Antiguidade nos Comentarios de Don D. García de Silva y Figueroa”, p. 345 (“Visions of Antiquity in the Comentarios of Don D. García de Silva y Figueroa”).

Zoltán BIEDERMANN, “Um viajante sem mapas? Figueroa e a cartografia da Pérsia”, p. 367 (“A traveller without maps? Figueroa and the cartography of Persia”).

Elio C. BRANCAFORTE, “The encounter between Pietro della Valle and García de Silva y Figueroa at the Safavid court of Shah ‘Abbas I”, p. 395.

Juan GIL, “D. García de Silva y D. Vicente Nogueira”, p. 411.

Maria João FERREIRA, “Os Portugueses e o negócio da seda persa: a participação lusitana no comércio de seda do início do século XVII”, p. 451 (“The Portuguese and the trade of Persian silk: the Lusitan participation in silk trade at the beginning of the 17th century”).


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Res Antiquitatis volume 2 (2011) is now available

Res Antiquitatis. Journal of Ancient History continues to incentive and to publish research works on Antiquity and its reception. The publication of quality articles, the internationalization of Portuguese research and the creation of opportunities to divulge the work of senior and young researchers are still its priorities. Volume nº 1 had a very significant diffusion and received excellent reactions and compliments from Portuguese and foreign researchers. This stimulates us to proceed with this project and our effort of placing this journal among internationally recognized reference periodicals.

In the present volume, nº 2, in the Studies’ section, there are two research areas that deserve to be mentioned: the first one is Egypt, which received special attention and is object of various studies comprised in a very wide chronological range. The second is dedicated to the reception of Antiquity, that was object of some of the communications presented at an international conference organized by CHAM at Fundação Oriente (Lisbon, 9th-10th of March 2009) entitled «Percepções do Oriente e da antiguidade na Europa da Época Moderna» («Perceptions of the Orient and Antiquity in Modern Age Europe») The Short Notes’ section is integrally dedicated to archaeological studies centered mainly in the area of the Halabiya-Zalabiya gorge. Many of its authors whether coordinate or participate on archaeological missions in this region and adjacent areas. Res Antiquitatis intends to become a forum where syntheses about the works taking place in these archaeological sites can be published annually, respecting some geographical coherence though not excluding other incoming contributions. In this issue we would like to highlight the presence of a short note about the Middle Euphrates signed by the participants of the IVe rencontre syro-franco-ibérique d’archéologie et d’histoire ancienne duProche-Orient which took place at Madrid in 2009. This note’s intention is to propose a proper definition of the concept of Middle Euphrates, which has been subject of certain ambiguities in historiography.

One of the most relevant texts in this volume of Res Antiquitatis is the interview made to Jean-Claude Margueron, the great archaeologist who excavated in Syria for decades: he directed for 25 years the archaeological mission of Mari, the ancient city on the Euphrates. This interview was made at Murcia (Spain) in March 2011, seizing the opportunity opened by his participation in the cycle of conferences concerning the exhibition Torre de Babel. Historia y Mito, which took place in the Museo Arqueológico de Murcia. This is a great interview that results in an impressive testimony of his intellectual life and of his intense archeological activity.

 The very positive impact of this journal’s first volume, that we hope to achieve continually, makes us believe that this project has a future.

Francisco Caramelo


Table of Contents with abstracts available for download


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Conference – Joaquín Córdoba (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

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García de Silva y Pietro della Valle en Irán. Dos viajeros, su mundo y los orígenes de la Arqueología en Oriente October 21st 2011 |16h00 |  Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas – UNL, Lisbon, Portugal Lisbon had the honour … Continue reading

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Arqueologias de Império – Impérios da Era Axial

The Interdisciplinary Seminar of Ancient History (Centro de História) is organizing the second conference Archaeologies of Empire, with the title Empires of the Axial Age. This event will take place in Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal) – March 18th 2011. You can download the original conference program here: Arqueologias de Império II (1)

09h00 Opening session

09h30 “A ética religiosa e social na Assíria (I milénio a.C.)” – Francisco Caramelo (UNL)

10h00 “Decapitação e exibição do inimigo como discurso e exercício do poder no impérioNeo-Assírio” – Marcel Monte (UNL)

11h00 “Conotações imperialistas no processo de colonização fenícia no Mediterrâneo Central e Ocidental” – Elisa de Sousa (UL)

11h30 “Beber do Nilo ou do Eufrates? O papel (do livro) de Jeremias na legitimação do imperium neo-babilónico em Judá” – João Vieira (UL)

14h00 “Eu, Assurbanípal, criatura do deus Assur” – Maria de Lurdes Palma (UL)

14h30 “Nabónido e o final do Império Neobabilónico” – António Ramos dos Santos (UL)

15h00 “A queda da Babilónia em 539 a.C. Nabónido e Ciro: duas atitudes religiosas divergentes e as suas repercussões políticas” – Maria de Fátima Rosa (UNL)

16h00 “Monarcas persas nas Histórias de Heródoto” – Carmen Leal Soares (UC)

16h30 “Ser rainha na Pérsia” – Maria de Fátima Sousa e Silva (UC)

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Exhibition: Torre de Babel. Historia y Mito, Museo Arqueológico de Murcia

9th December 2010 – 20th March 2011

Organized by the Consejería de Cultura y Turismo de la Región de Murcia, this exhibition presents several pieces concerning the Tower of Babel, one of the biblical themes that most inspired the imagination throughout the centuries. It is not surprising that this theme has so much relevance to understand the reception of the Mesopotamian and Babylonian civilization over the ages. Among the pieces now available at Murcia, we can observe some of the glazed brick panels representing a lion and a dragon that once stood in the famous “Gate of Ishtar”, in the city of Babylon. Moreover, clay bricks and tablets, statuary and other items, some of them belonging to the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Berlin).

Besides the exhibition, there will take place a conference between the 14th and 17th of March 2011, with the title Babilonia. Historia y Mito:

Monday, 14th of March
19h00: Alejandro Magno y Babilonia.
Victor Alonso Troncoso (Universidad de A Coruña)

20h00: Precipicio de soberbios y cima de sabios. El Mito de Babel en el arte.
Juan Manuel Monterroso Montero (Universidad de Santiago de Compostela)

Tuesday, 15th March

19h00: Medicina y Magia en Babilonia
Barbara Böck (CSIC, Madrid)

20h00: Educación y Ciencia en Babilonia
Ignacio Marquez Rowe (CSIC, Madrid)

Wednesday, 16th of March

19h00: Babilonia, de Koldewey a la actualidad.*
Joachin Marzahn (Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin)

20h00: La ciudad de Babilonia: historia y mito.*
Jean-Claude Margueron (EPHE, Paris)

Thursday, 17th of March

19h00: Los jardines colgantes de Babilonia y el simbolismo del jardín en Oriente.
Gonzalo Matilla Séiquer (Universidad de Murcia)

20h00: Etemenanki versus torre de Babel: historia y mito.
Juan Luís Montero Fenollós (Universidad de A Coruña)

*With simultaneous translation from German and French.

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