Conference – Joaquín Córdoba (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

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 of the presence of Prof. Joaquín Córdoba, Spanish professor, researcher and archaeologist from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
Prof. Córdoba gave a conference about a masterpiece of travel literature of the 17th century: the Comentarios of Don García de Silva y Figueroa. This Spanish noble led an embassy sent by King Filipe III to the court of Safavi Persia. He embarked in Lisbon (1614) in a Portuguese fleet following the traditional route to the Orient, through the Atlantic and the Cape of Good Hope. From Lisbon to Goa, Hormuz and Persia, Don García left us in his writings a huge description of his journey, ending at his death en route back to Europe in 1624. In his explanation, Prof. Joaquín Córdoba integrated the embassy in the historical and political context of the relations of Europe with the Ottoman and Safavi empires.

In Persia, Don García met an Italian fellow traveler, Pietro della Valle. Both left for posterity their travel diaries containing a vast repository of information about their perceptions of lands, people and customs so different from Europe. Prof. Joaquín Córdoba highlighted one particular aspect of their works: the vast observations and interpretations about the vestiges and ruins of Antiquity. Don García’s Comentarios are some of the first objective observations about the ruins of Persepolis, ancient capital of the Achaemenid Persians, and the Cuneiform writing.

Therefore, the otherness perceived by these travelers is not only sinchronic, but also diachronic – the “others” are not only those who live in our own times, but also those who lived in different ages of the past. In the case of Don García de Silva y Figueroa’s work, we are standing before a rich historical source about how Antiquity met Modern History, through the eyes of a very cultivated European that used both the Bible and the Classics as cultural references to interpret what he saw. Prof. Joaquín Córdoba granted us a remarkable insight about this theme and showing broad avenues for historiographic research.

L'Ambassade de D. Garcias de Silva Figueroa en Perse (Paris, 1667)

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