Manuscripts written under nomadic rule in the medieval Islamic world will be explored and analysed, with nearly €1.2m of funding awarded to a Goldsmiths, University of London researcher.
Dr Bruno De Nicola has been named one of six recipients of the START award 2019 from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF Der Wissenschaftsfonds) to support six years of research and analysis of previously unstudied documents from medieval Iran and Central Asia.
The general view is that following the conquests of Genghis Khan (d. 1227) and his successors, the Mongol empire was led by ‘barbarians’ who ‘ruled from their horses’ and put an end to the golden era of Islamic civilisation.
But Dr De Nicola’s preliminary research suggests that nomadic conquerors brought not only destruction to certain parts of the Islamic World but also played a fundamental role in the unprecedented burst of cultural activity documented in manuscripts surviving from the 13th-15th centuries.
The project will investigate if a cohesive cultural environment existed, in which nomadic rulers and their sedentary subjects cooperated and were equally involved in financing, producing and distributing knowledge in the region.
The START prize will allow Dr De Nicola and two postdoctoral researchers to access an extensive amount of new information through the study of Persian and Arabic manuscripts that have survived to the present day. The information contained in these codices will be digitised and then be made available online through the creation of an independent analytical database of Islamic manuscripts. The database will become an important tool to promote further research in the field of Islamic and Eurasian studies by providing access to these documents for researchers and the general public.
The project will also result in the production of various monographs, research papers and the organisation of conferences held in Iran, Central Asia and Europe.
Dr Bruno De Nicola is currently a Lecturer in the History of the Middle East in the Department of History at Goldsmiths. He has been curator of Persian manuscripts at the British Library and Research Fellow at the University of St. Andrews. Born in Argentina, he studied medieval history at the University of Barcelona and Middle Eastern History at SOAS and Cambridge.
The project, entitled Nomads’ Manuscripts Landscape: investigating literary evidence for transculturation in Medieval Iran and Central Asia 13th – 15th century, will be conducted as a collaboration between Goldsmiths and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Research will take place in Vienna between 2020-26, while opening up new opportunities for events and teaching in London.
The Austrian Science Fund’s highly-sought after START Programme is aimed at early-career researchers in any discipline, with two to eight years’ research experience following the awarding of their doctorate and an exceptional international track record.