Medieval Treasuries

This project takes as its jumping-off point the medieval objects once gathered in Iberian treasuries in order to highlight transcultural networks, shining a light on issues of broad relevance for scholarship and society today. Foremost among these is the necessity of bringing different types of evidence to bear in order to put long-held assumptions to the test. We address broad socio-cultural questions concerning the role of sumptuary collections as evidence of contacts both within and beyond Iberia during the central Middle Ages.

Treasuries offer an opportunity for reading evidence over time, weighing the sometimes contradictory conclusions from documentary or visual sources against scientific analysis. In the project, nineteen art historians, archaeologists, curators, and historians from seven countries examine the geographically charged nature of objects and investigate women as vectors of cultural exchange.

We argue that an investigation of how and why medieval objects crossed cultural and religious boundaries addresses two urgent challenges faced by modern-day society. First, transcultural objects make manifest the connections all too often missing from official history: they demonstrate materially what would otherwise remain invisible. This is especially important for recognizing the multiple layers of contacts in medieval Christendom and Islam, often bellicose but not exclusively so. Second, this project pays particular attention to moments in which medieval women took a lead role in the movement of objects from distant lands.

Research project: The Medieval Iberian Treasury in Context: Collections, Connections, and Representations on the Peninsula and Beyond (PI Therese Martin, Research Challenge Grant, Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, RTI2018-098615-B-100 /AEI /10.13039/501100011033/ FEDER “Una manera de hacer Europa”, 2019-2022).