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IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 455: The Classification of Horses in Medieval Arabic and European Texts: A Workshop

Monday 6 July 2020, 19.00-20.00

Organiser:Hylke Hettema, School of Middle Eastern Studies, Universiteit Leiden
Moderator/Chairs:Edouard Al-Dahdah, Independent Scholar Pretoria
Anastasija Ropa, Department of Management & Communication Science, Latvian Academy of Sport Education, Riga

In this workshop, participants will increase their awareness of the importance of horse descriptions in medieval texts and of the ways in which these descriptions can be interpreted. Working in groups on either a European or an Arabic text, the participants will examine a reproduction of the manuscript fragment, the transcribed text, the translation, and applying what the text says to an illumination or a modern photo. No specific skills are required to participate in the workshop; attending the workshop will improve the participants’ skills in paleography and codicology of medieval manuscripts, as well as deepening their understanding of the issues of textual transmission, modern classification of medieval texts and fragments, their transcription, and translation.

The speakers will bring fragments of texts from the respective traditions and show the participants how these texts evolved over time, having been copied in later manuscripts throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern period. The speakers will also present problems that occur with translating the texts, especially Arabic texts, but also the problems in understanding and translating terminology in European languages (Middle English and Middle French). The participants will have an opportunity to work with both sets of texts and try to apply information provided in the texts to medieval illustrations of horses and to photos of contemporary horses by completing a quiz at the beginning and the end of the workshop.

The working questions will include the following:
• How was knowledge about horses preserved and passed down from antiquity through the Middle Ages?
• Was this knowledge merely encyclopedic or was it used for assessing real horses?
• Can we today apply the criteria used by medieval authors to assessing horses in medieval illustrations or real, 21st-century specimen of horses and ponies?

This workshop will be useful both for scholars interested in the medieval horse in general and to those who are studying the ways in which information (any kind of scientific information) was preserved and disseminated in the Middle Ages.

This workshop will be led by Edouard Al-Dahdah (Independent Scholar, Pretoria) and Anastasija Ropa (Latvian Academy of Sport Education, Riga)