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Analysis of the Artistic Exchanges in the Medieval Mediterranean between 12th and 15th Centuries through the Geographical Information Systems (GIS): A Critical Review of Centre and Peripheries

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ArtMedGIS (Analysis of the Artistic Exchanges in the Medieval Mediterranean between 12th and 15th Centuries through the Geographical Information Systems (GIS): A Critical Review of Centre and Peripheries)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2018-05-31

The aim of this project was to enrich the knowledge and comprehension of the history and culture of Mediterranean countries during the late Middle Ages beyond the state-of-the-art, from the analysis of the artistic exchanges between different societies and territories through the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and the HBDS methodology. For that purpose, we have selected certain elements of Islamic art, developed by the Almoravids during the 12th century, which can be related to other manifestations produced by different Mediterranean societies (Islamic and non-Islamic ones) due to existing commercial, political and cultural relations.
In this context, the objectives established for this project were:
1.- To measure the presence of the pre-selected elements in the main artistic manifestations of the Islamic and Christian Mediterranean countries in the late Middle Ages;
2.- To apply the new method based on the GIS, through the creation of three databases for studying the exchanges between the main Mediterranean artistic manifestations and Almoravid art;
3.- To assess the relation of religion and power with the artistic productions of the Islamic countries in the Mediterranean frame;
4.- To review the concepts of centre and peripheries regarding the artistic production in the Mediterranean context.
To achieve all these objectives, the fellow has extracted the data from the historiography, Arab and Latin written sources, the artistic and architectural remains in different Mediterranean countries and the artistic funds of the main museum collections. The results of the research have been included in 3 different databases (each one related to one of the pre-selected artistic elements) and several scientific and outreach publications. These results have been presented in different scientific and outreach activities organized in the framework of the project in Portugal, Spain and France, with a great number of participants, as well as spread in important International Conferences, held in UK, USA, Spain and Portugal. On the other hand, to disseminate all the information related to the project, a website has been created by the beneficiary.
The importance of this project lies in the revision of concepts, the improvement of the knowledge of societies that lived simultaneously in a given territory through the study of their culture and thought, and the introduction of an innovative method for the Art History research, based on the GIS. Concerning the first aspects, due to the current relationship between the Islamic world and the West, the knowledge and comprehension of the history and culture of Islamic countries are the first steps for creating a sustainable relationship pattern between these countries and European ones. Within this frame, the results of the project, above all the implementation of the different databases, have contributed to the development of the research on Islamic art and architecture, and they have provided a better knowledge of the history, the culture and exchanges of the Mediterranean area during the late Middle Ages. On the other hand, concerning the application of an innovative method for the Art History research based on the GIS has contributed to the renewal of the traditional methods of study of this field, thanks to the successful GIS courses held in Portugal and Spain in the framework of the project.
In summary, we can conclude that the development of the action has been highly satisfactory and successful, because all the objectives and the expected results have been achieved, the activities linked to the project have had a great success with a high number of participants and the number of scientific and outreach publications linked to the project is higher than expected.
Throughout the duration of the project, the three scheduled Work packages have been successfully completed (WP1: study in libraries and museums; WP2: creation of Conceptual Data Models and three databases to study three different Islamic artistic elements with a GIS; WP3: production and analysis of cartographical material generated with a GIS). In that way, the four objectives and the expected results have been achieved.
The scientific results have been published in 5 papers, 1 book and 4 book chapters, and it is scheduled the publication of other 2 books related to both Workshops held in the framework of the project. Beyond the mentioned International Workshops, 1 International Seminar, 2 International Courses and 1 session in an important International Conference have been organized by the fellow. Moreover, the results of the project have been presented in 16 International Conferences (and 2 more on going) in Portugal, Spain, UK and USA, and in 8 lectures in different Universities and research centres in France, Portugal and Spain. Concerning the outreach activities, the fellow has participated twice in the European Researchers’ Night (2016, 2017), a website of the project has been created ( and the fellow has been interviewed twice in radio and YouTube (
Due to the fact that the project had to be finished 5 months before scheduled, some outputs have not been achieved for the moment. Nonetheless, during the following months it is expected to continue the implementation of the database which has not been completely finished and it is planned to be available the 3 databases in Open Access, throughout the website of the project and the website of the Instituto de Estudos Medievais.
The study of the cultural exchanges in the framework of the late medieval Mediterranean from discrimination criteria based on the pre-selection of Almoravid artistic elements has implied a progress beyond the state-of-the-art and an innovation in the methodology applied to the Art History research. This analysis, combined with the application of the GIS and HBDS method to the Art History, has implied a deep modernisation and a significant advance in the state-of-the-art, above all in the field of the medieval period.
Concerning the topic of the project, the relations between the Islamic countries with different religious confession (Sunni or Shiite) and the non-Islamic ones in the field of the medieval art have not been yet deeply studied. Moreover, the review of the concepts “centre” and “peripheries” has implied an advance in the knowledge of the bordering territories and their implication in the artistic production. In this particular case, under the light of the results of this project, these concepts have been reviewed in the line of considering several productive centres, able to develop the same artistic elements at the same time in very far territories.
On the other hand, the analysis based on visual and numerical results provided by the GIS has allowed to measure in a numerical way certain phenomena that have been only studied in an intuitive way. This multidisciplinary perspective applied to the Art History has helped to equate this discipline to others, such as History or Archaeology, where this method of work is well established. The activities organized in the framework of the project, with the participation of international renowned specialists, have contributed to the dissemination of this innovative work and methodology applied to the Art History research, as well as to the impact of the fellow's work, which will be continue during the following years.
Visit during the International Seminar al-Murābiṭūn: noveno centenario del esplendor de un Imperio
1st International Workshop Dialogues in Late Medieval Mediterranean, Lisbon, June 2017
European Researchers' Night 2017, Lisbon
1st International GIS Course, Lisbon, May 2017
2nd International Workshop Dialogues in Late Medieval Mediterranean, Granada, November 2017
Session at the International Medieval Congress 2017, Leeds
2nd International GIS Course, Granada, December 2017
Euroepan Researchers' Night 2016, Lisbon