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Behind the Scenes Interviews

Advancing the “Humanidades Digitales”

To mark Ancient History Encyclopedia’s latest international partnership with Humanidades Digitales CAICYT in Buenos Aires, Argentina, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Dr. Gimena del Rio Riande, a researcher at the Seminario de Edicion y Crítica Textual (SECRIT-IIBICRIT) of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), about the state of the digital humanities in Argentina, in addition the potential implications and promise of digital research in the Hispanosphere and wider world alike.

JW: Dr. Gimena del Rio Riande, thank you for speaking with me and welcome to AHE. What is the state of the “digital humanities” in Argentina and Latin America? What specific challenges are encountered in the region, and what can researchers abroad do to assist?

GDRR: Every time someone asks me this question, the first thing I do is to say that the “digital humanities” or “DH” is not the same as the humanidades digitales or “HD” in Spanish. While the digital humanities is nowadays an expanding scientific field with a clear tradition in relation to the humanities, computing, computational linguistics, or even the “digital scholarly edition” in most Anglophone institutions — not just those of USA or UK, but also countries like Germany or the Netherlands where English is a scientific koiné — we cannot say the same for the HD or Hispanophone nations.

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Interviews

The Merovingians in Paris

The Merovingian kingdoms were arguably the most important polities to emerge after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, blending Gallo-Roman art and culture with Germanic Frankish customs. In a new landmark exhibition at the Musée de Cluny in Paris, France — Merovingian Times: Three Centuries of Art and Culture — the grandeur, power, and artistic brilliance of the Merovingian rulers and their subjects is unmasked and reassessed. In this exclusive English language interview James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Isabelle Bardiès-Fronty, Chief Conservator at the Musée de Cluny, about the exhibition as well as the legacy of the Merovingians in France.

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Interviews

Artistic Creativity in Six Dynasties China

The Six Dynasties period from the third to sixth centuries CE was one of the most dynamic periods in Chinese art history, akin to the European Renaissance in the impact it had on artistic creativity and the celebration of individual expression. Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks from Six Dynasties China, 3rd-6th Centuries, now on show at the China Institute in New York, New York, situates these innovations and achievements from both the Southern and Northern Dynasties across four major disciplines: Ceramics, sculpture, calligraphy, and painting. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Ms. Willow Weilan Hai, Director of the China Institute Gallery, about the exhibition.

Celadon Double-Rim, Lidded Jar with Underglaze Decoration. Three Kingdoms period, Wu kingdom (222–280 CE). Glazed porcelain; H. (total) 11 7/8 in., D. (at mouth) 5 7/8 in., D. (at belly) 13 in., D. (at base) 7 5/8 in. Unearthed in 2004 from the construction site of Huangce Jiayuan on Xianhe Street in Nanjing Collection of the Nanjing Municipal Museum.
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Interviews

The Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland Project

In 2012, Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) profiled the work of the Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland Project. The central aim of this project was to characterize the environment, settlement patterns, social structures, and ritual practices of the people who lived and died in Ireland during the first five centuries CE. It also surveyed the nature of Ireland’s interactions with the Roman Empire — especially with Roman Britain — in order to reconstruct a more holistic archaeological narrative for the later Irish Iron Age. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks again to Dr. Jacqueline Cahill Wilson about the findings of this unprecedented archaeological project.

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Interviews

Ancient Indian Flavors

The flavors and aromas of ancient Persia and India converge in Parsi cuisine. In this exclusive interview, Niloufer Mavalvala, author of The Art of Parsi Cooking: Reviving an Ancient Cuisine, introduces us to the culture and the tastes of the Parsis.

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Niloufer Mavalvala’s latest publication is “The Art of Parsi Cooking: Reviving an Ancient Cuisine.” (Photo: Courtesy of Niloufer Mavalvala.)

JW: Niloufer, thanks for speaking with me about your new title. For our readers who do not know anything about the Parsis, could you share a bit of little history and explain the importance of their journey from what is present-day Iran to India and Pakistan?

NM: Prophet Zarathushtra Spitama lived in ancient Persia over 2,000 years ago, and the main keystones of his religion are “good thoughts, good words, good deeds.” After the Arabs invaded Iran in the seventh century CE, many Zoroastrians fled religious persecution and sought refuge in India. The Indians referred to the newcomers as “Parsis” or “people from Pars,” implying that they were “Persian.” As part of the asylum agreement, the “Parsis” agreed to adopt the local language, dress and customs, thereby developing a unique cuisine that blended their traditional dishes with new spices, fruits and vegetables available in India, and later in Pakistan.

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Interviews

The Nabataeans of Ancient Arabia

Known the world over for their hauntingly beautiful cities of Petra and Mada’in Saleh and engineering acumen, the Nabataeans of ancient Arabia were the middlemen in the long distance trade between the ancient Mediterranean and South Arabia. Mysterious and beguiling, their legacy endures across time and space in the Arabic script and in the sophistication of their cities, carved out of the harsh desert landscape.

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Laïla Nehmé, a senior research scientist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, speaks to James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) about the creative genius of the Nabataeans.

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Interviews

Samarkand: Recipes and Stories

Filled with ancient, simplified recipes as well as photographs and essays, Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus, written by journalists Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford, is a love letter to the region and the peoples who left their imprint on its varied cuisine: Turks, Jews, Georgians, Armenians, Azeris, Persians, Afghans, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, and Uighurs. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to the authors about their new, evocative cookbook.

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Interviews

The Librarians of Timbuktu

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, by journalist Joshua Hammer, tells the incredible story of Abdel Kader Haidara — a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu — who organized a successful effort to outwit Al-Qaeda and preserve Mali’s greatest treasures in 2012. In this Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) exclusive, James Blake Wiener speaks to Joshua Hammer about Haidara’s life and work, in addition to the importance of Timbuktu’s ancient manuscripts.

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Interviews

“For the Most Beautiful”–A New Novel

Boldly imagined and exquisitely written, For the Most Beautiful, a debut novel by classicist Emily Hauser, chronicles the defeat of Troy through the eyes of female characters almost entirely disregarded in Homer’s Iliad — Briseis, princess of Pedasus, and Krisayis, daughter of the High Priest of Troy. In this Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) exclusive, James Blake Wiener interviews Emily Hauser, asking questions as to the difficulties she faced in writing her first novel, and why ancient Troy lingers so vividly in the western imagination.

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Exhibitions Interviews

Egyptian Relations with Canaan

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is giving the public an unprecedented opportunity to explore ancient Egyptian relations with Canaan during the second millennium BCE in Pharaoh in Canaan: The Untold Story. This exhibition presents more than 680 objects, which reflect the rich cross-fertilization of ritual practices and aesthetic vocabularies between these two distinct cultures.

In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) discusses the exhibition and the countless ties that bound ancient Egypt to Canaan with Dr. Eran Arie, Curator of Iron Age and Persian Period Archaeology at the Israel Museum.