Jerba: an Island in Time

Episode 353

hosted by Emily Neumeier

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For the first time on the podcast, we discuss the role of archaeology and its potential to contribute to our knowledge of the Ottoman world. More specifically, we explore how the field of landscape archaeology can offer a better understanding of how different factors of religion, politics, and culture impacted the manipulation of territory over millenia. The large-scale examination of material culture and vernacular architecture in a rural setting particularly has the potential to fill in the gaps of the historical archive, providing information about communities that otherwise remain relatively unknown. In this episode, we speak with Renata Holod, who co-directed a multi-year archaeological and architectural survey of the island of Jerba, off the coast of Tunisia. Our conversation not only explains the techniques and methodologies deployed during the project, but also ranges to wider reflections on the different ways the arrival of the Ottomans on the island can be read in the landscape itself.

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Contributor Bios
Renata Holod is the College for Women Class of 1963 Term Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Curator in the Near East Section of the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. She has done archaeological and architectural fieldwork in Syria, Iran, Morocco, Central Asia, Turkey, and Tunisia.
Emily Neumeier is ACLS Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at The Ohio State University. Her research concerns the art and architecture of the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic. She is co-curator of our series The Visual Past and editor of the blog stambouline, a site where travel and the Ottoman world meet.


Episode No. 353
Release Date: 28 March 2018
Recording Location: Philadelphia, Penn.
Audio editing by Emily Neumeier
Music: Special thanks to Kara Günes for permission to use the composition "Istanbul" and to Sato Moughalian for music from "Oror"
Katibim (Uskudar'a Gider iken) - Safiye Ayla
Images and bibliography courtesy of Renata Holod


Figure 1: Map showing the geographic location of the island of Jerba (“Jirba”), today off of the coast of Tunisia.

Figure 2: Map showing the survey transects for the Jerba project (i.e. the areas that were walked by teams to find ceramic scatter on the ground). Image by Michael Frachetti
Figure 3: Samples of ceramic sherds found by the survey teams on Jerba
Figure 4: Aerial view showing the distinctive land-use pattern of farming estates
Figure 5: Map documenting the layout of a rural agricultural estate
Figure 6: Photograph showing a mosque in the landscape
Figure 7: Closer view of the same mosque in Figure 6
Figure 8: A mosque in ruins

Select Bibliography

Jerba Archaeological and Ethno-historical Survey Project directed by Ali Drine, Elizabeth Fentress, and Renata Holod

Fentress, Elizabeth, Ali Drine and Renata Holod, eds. An Island through Time: Jerba Studies, Volume I (Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 71). Portsmouth, Rhode Island: 2009.

Holod, Renata, and Enrico Cirelli. "Islamic Pottery from Jerba (7th–10th century): Aspects of Continuity?" in La Céramique Maghrébine du Moyen Age (VIIIe–Xe Siècles), edited by Patrice Cressier and Elizabeth Fentress. Rome: École Française de Rome: 165–86.

Holod, Renata, and Tarek Kahlaoui. “Jerba of the Ninth Century: Under Aghlabid Contol?” in The Aghlabids and Their Neighbors: Art and Material Culture in Ninth-Century North Africa, edited by Glaire D. Anderson, Corisande Fenwick, and Mariam Rosser-Owen. Leiden: Brill, 2018: 451-469.

Kahlaoui, Tarek. "Tracing Urbanization in Early Modern Jerba," in The Mediterranean Medina, edited by L. Micara, A. Petruciolli, and E. Vadini. Rome, 2009: 406-414.

Further Reading:

Baram, U. and L. Carroll, eds. A Historical Archaeology of the Ottoman Empire: Breaking New Ground. New York: 2002.

Davies, Siriol and Jack L. Davis, eds. Between Venice and Istanbul: Colonial Landscapes in Early Modern Greece (Hesperia Supplement 40). Athens: American School of Classical Studies, 2007.

Hicks, Dan and Mary C. Beaudry, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Historical Archaeology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University, 2006.

Walker, Bethany. Reflections of Empire: Archaeological and Ethnographic Studies on the Pottery of the Ottoman Levant (Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 64). The American Schools of Oriental Research, 2009.


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