International Conference – 7th Centennial of Oriental Studies in Salamanca

Estudios Orientales en Salamanca

In 1311, during a council celebrated at Vienne (France), Pope Clemens V enacted a “canon” allowing and urging the universities of Salamanca, Oxford, Paris and Bologna to teach oriental languages: Arab, Hebrew and Chaldean. So, for the first time, the study of Oriental languages and cultures became introduced into the European university system. It is a historical event we would like to commemorate.
In Spain Salamanca was the first University engaged in Oriental Studies, and this is why we have decided to organize here a commemorative conference together with our Spanish and European colleagues. The celebration of the first impulse for these studies can be an excellent occasion for analysing the history of Oriental Studies in Spain and in Europe, its landmarks and its changes along the centuries, as well as its efforts to take into account the successive historical environments, needs and aspirations.
We also would like to show the good health of Oriental Studies in Salamanca, in the Spanish universities, and all over Europe.

For more information:

Call for papers:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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)

Posted in News | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Exhibition: Bridge of Knowledge (London, SOAS)

13 January – 26 March 201, Brunei Gallery Exhibition Rooms

Bridge of Knowledge will offer a rare glimpse of powerfully evocative books from the holdings of the most prestigious and specialised of private libraries on the East-West Interface: Travel, Science, Art, and Literature, from the age of printing; plus manuscript highlights from the last millennium. An exhibition which respects and celebrates the centuries-old relationship between the West and the Arab and Islamic world as it survives in magnificent books, engravings, manuscripts and documents, and will be the 100th exhibition to be presented by the Brunei Gallery, SOAS.

On display will be books from the dawn of printing such as an illuminated edition of the medical compendium, the Canon, of one of Islam’s greatest medical experts, Ibn Sina, known in the west as Avicenna. Early printed editions of other scientific texts – medical, astronomical, alchemical – testify to the profound impact of Islam’s greatest scientific minds on western learning from medieval times to the European Renaissance and beyond.

Travellers journeying east in serious pursuit of profit or knowledge, as pilgrims, diplomats, merchants, soldiers or natural historians, and sometimes just for pleasure, describe their adventures for western readerships hungry to learn about neighbouring worlds that have meant so much to them through their spiritual and material impact. Artists too, many amateur and some professional, capture these other worlds for those fortunate to own their magnificent publications.

Sultan Suleyman I

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Visualizing Empires Decline

«Visualizing Empires Decline» is an awarded project  by Pedro Miguel Cruz, a Portuguese student of Information Technologies. The award was conceded at SIGGRAPH 2010 – the greatest festival of Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in the world, on the cathegory of Seeds of Science – Junior.

The project was born while the author was attending his Master’s course at the Faculty of Sciences and Engineering of University of Coimbra. It consists on a mathematical-based visualization of the growth and decline of four european empires of the 19th and 20th centuries: The Portuguese, the Spanish, the French and the British.

It is a very interesting thing to watch and to reflect upon. We can see in this example how visualization can help to understand long-term trends in historical research, if based in statistical data.

Visualizing empires decline from Pedro M Cruz on Vimeo.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Exhibition: “Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond” (Sep 28, 2010 – March 6, 2011)

There is still time to visit this most interesting exhibition at the Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago (Sep 28, 2010 – March 6, 2011). It presents a series of artifacts that testify the most ancient forms of writing in Mesopotamia, Egypt and also in Meso-America and China. For all of those lucky enough to be able to go there, we give you here just a hint of what one can find there:

«Among the items on display will be the earliest cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq), dating to about 3200 BC, which are on loan from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin. They have never before been exhibited in the United States. The pictographic signs, a precursor to writing, are part of a writing system that developed into cuneiform, a wedge-shaped script that was incised on clay tablets. Examples of that form of writing will also be exhibited.»

Piece of an ivory box incised with a personal name Hery-netcheru, his title, "Supervisor of the servants of the Ceremonial Beard," and name of King Djet.

«Visitors will also learn the most recent theories about the origins of the alphabet. Long believed to have been invented in Phoenicia in about 1000 BC, the earliest alphabetic texts are now those found in the Sinai. This earliest alphabet was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs as early as 1800 BC, well over five hundred years earlier than had been known. Examples of early alphabetic texts in Proto-Sinaitic, Old South Arabian, and Hebrew are included in the exhibit.»

Visit the exhibition’s website at:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Editor’s announcement

Res Antiquitatis is the most recent editorial project of the Centre for Overseas History, with the aim of becoming a space for reflexion and debate on Antiquity. The study and investigation of several Antiquities, from the Pre-Classical and Near Eastern to the Classic Antiquity, are the main motivation of this project, both for its intrinsic scientific interest and the conviction that such investigation may become, on the whole, a useful conceptual reflexion for the study of other periods and historical questions. Res Antiquitatis is therefore a contribution to the development in Portugal of investigation in fields related to the Antiquity, and it is open to the scientific production of both consecrated researchers and junior scholars. It will seek to highlight the research produced in our country and, to that purpose, English and French will be the main editorial languages. Internationalization is crucial to the affirmation of Portuguese research. Res Antiquitatis will contribute to that by publishing in these languages the work of both Portuguese and foreign scholars, thus becoming a common channel of communication and discussion.

Another important goal is to conciliate the research on different Antiquities (Pre-Classical, Classical, Biblical, Oriental) with their “reception” in later periods, i.e. how they were perceived since Antiquity itself up to contemporary times. These cultural perceptions witness a reflexion on the otherness, which becomes interesting regarding the self-consciousness that a society or culture gradually constructs. Examples of these perceptions are the Oriental expressions one finds in the 19th century European culture. This Orientalism is manifest in the literature (including the Portuguese one), in painting, in music and even in the press. The 17th and 18th centuries, on the other hand, are copious in accounts of travellers and wandering Europeans in Oriental lands, who describe and reflect on what they see and on the echoes and expressions of those Antiquities. The Jesuit epistolary frequently makes use of references to the Antiquity and in particular to historical figures of Classical Antiquity or Biblical characters as stereotypes that run their religious, social and political reflexions.

The closest and more frequent contacts that Modern Europe established with Asia have generated curiosity on otherness and on Antiquity. European travellers, and in particular several Portuguese ones, roamed through some of these lands, namely the Near East, and saw the remains of ancient cultures. Using the Classical writers and the Bible as guidebooks, they sought to identify in the field ancient references such as Babylon and the Tower of Babel. Their perplexity towards the otherness and exoticism of what they witnessed and also the recognition of these echoes of Antiquity, through the observation of their archaeological and historical remains, led those travellers to write accounts of their journeys that reflected their cultural perceptions. The travel accounts of the Portuguese and the Spanish, from the 16th century onwards, are a testimony of that perplexity in the experience of discovering the other. They bear a historical awareness of Antiquity that derives from the Bible and from the Classical culture and is now tested by and faced with direct observation and experience. Res Antiquitatis, an yearly journal, thus emerges as an innovating project in the background of Antiquity Studies in Portugal, open to Portuguese as well as foreign authors and clearly investing in the quality and international circulation of the scientific work it embraces.

Francisco Caramelo


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment