Middle East, East Ambuhl University Library, Elliot Mehanna discussed on Science Friction


Hello and welcome to sides friction it is the show exploring sides and culture. With Extra Spice Natasha Mitchell back with you and today we are looking for fakes. It was utterly disgusted of a surprise, I never had actually expected this to happen. And there's an irony here. Because half of my work is about how meaning and nuance, and in history gets MIS translated once it gets on the Internet and circulates in different ways here. It was happening to my very own work. So this story starts with a mixture and you I notice it. On the cover of a textbook, so the book is a sort of medieval encyclopedia, and has been translated recently into English by my colleague Elliot Mehanna. This is Dr Nisha fee as an historian from the University of California San, Diego. His thing is the culture and sites of the Ottoman Empire that vast state, which controlled over six hundred years much of Southeast Europe Western Asia and North Africa up. Until the twentieth century, it was centered around Istanbul and on the cover it of it is two men looking through telescopes. Telescopes one of them is pointing up at the night sky so here you have this traditional vision of men observing the cosmos through telescopes, they looking across a rich landscape from a kind of Belka Ni there on some sort of tower. Yeah, and there's a mood of them, so it's the time. Yeah, and it's drawn in this sort of traditional. Persian miniature style. Knees describing is sane depicting to turbaned astronomers at work sometime in the medieval era of the middle. East Persian miniatures of these small beautiful paintings of historical sayings, famous for their intricate detail and modern reproductions of them are sold in the busy markets of eastern to tourists in those, there seems to be an obsession with science, so some of these scenes are images that might be found in actual manuscripts for instance an image of circulatory system in the human body. People looking through a telescope people treating Toothache, a dentist operating on someone, a surgeon cutting open up a patient. Some of them are sexual, but they're often quite commonly linked to science. which is kind of curious because he's what you find. If you actually look at the historical record, I've looked through thousands of manuscripts myself out of every one thousand, two thousand, I find one with some illustration in it, and of those only a tiny fraction are actually depictions, of science. And there's a controversy or reason for why the story of Islamic Science is being sold to tourists in this way and I'll get back to that, but what about that? Miniature of the to astronomers will knee was about to use the book? It was on the cover of for a university course he teaches called science and Islam and something about it just didn't ring true. One is the telescope itself right? The telescope is something that was developed by Galileo and others in the seventeenth century. We have a lot of evidence of people using telescopes eighteenth century in the Middle East about I've never come across a picture of someone using it. And looking more closely again at the peak show me and noticed something else was odd. The style was a bit off. The colors were to write. The pigments were off. The way that this thing was drawn was not quite correct. So what I look for is the full picture when there wasn't cropped, and then once I saw. Two, more figures emerged in here. You have another man looking through a telescope, and then at the bottom of the picture you have the man with his hand on the globe, and writing a book with a quilt, and that quill set alarm bells off Fanie Ish via this for me with the little moment in which. I realize this is a fake because. People in the middle. East didn't write with quills a used to write with reed pens. Okay, that sounds like a very social day tile, but only and historians. I could pick up all be concerned about, and you might be thinking. But. This was a scholarly text, not the place for five weeks, and it's libel said it was a genuine miniature, asked in the East Ambuhl University Library. What we have here is a modern forgery masquerading as a mediaeval illustration as he describes it and the tourist markets are full of phase. They're very clearly fakes, so you know this isn't something that's fooled all sorts of experts here. But what happens is when they move onto the Internet. And how did they get onto the Internet? They get onto through these stock photo agencies stock foot inside. The one selling pictures to new sites to books all sorts of anytime. We need an image so there was this one particular photographer by the name of Janney Deldot, who is apparently pretty famous I found out for photographing pictures and museums, and he, according to the tag lines in these stock indices had photographed a large number of these fake miniatures and said that they were in the Stumble University library.

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