Quand Graph-East se frotte à l’archéologie expérimentale

Graph-East vient de vivre son premier week-end d’atelier de taille de pierre. Thierry Gregor, spécialiste des techniques de taille de pierre dans l’Antiquité et le Moyen Âge, nous a généreusement ouvert les portes de son atelier – et de sa maison  – pour une immersion totale dans les aspects matériels et pratiques de l’épigraphie. Habitués à accéder au passé par un apprentissage théorique et spéculatif, un groupe de jeunes chercheurs (Clément Dussart, Savvas Mavromatidis, Hasan Sercan Sağlam, Yaroslav Stadnichenko et Maria Aimé Villano) s’est plongé dans l’expérience remarquable de prendre en mains les outils, travailler les matériaux et s’initier aux techniques. Samedi matin, Thierry nous a présenté les différents types d’outils utilisés au Moyen Âge : scies, maillets, broches, forets et ciseaux. Les outils n’étaient pas présentés sous forme de dessins ou de photographies, ils étaient là, en chair et en os, pour que nous puissions les prendre, comparer leurs poids, leurs couleurs, leurs textures et même les utiliser. On nous a ensuite montré les différentes sortes de pierres, calcaires, marbres et granits, que nous avons pu toucher, peser et “jouer” afin d’entendre le son que les différents matériaux émettent lorsqu’on les frappe. Plus tard, Thierry nous a fourni de petits blocs de calcaire et nous a proposé de passer à l’acte. Quelle découverte ! Pour la première fois, peut-être, nous avons réalisé à quel point il est difficile d’utiliser efficacement les outils, d’effectuer des mouvements qui correspondent à nos intentions, de composer avec la fatigue, la poussière et les positions inconfortables. Plus encore, lorsque le dimanche matin, nous avons troqué la pierre calcaire contre le marbre, un matériau beaucoup plus dur. Comment ne pas nous rappeler les belles inscriptions (et sculptures) que nous avons vues tout au long de nos études, en admirant encore plus la dextérité et la créativité de ces hommes et femmes qui les ont créées ! Et comment ne pas reconnaître le niveau de technique et de savoir-faire requis pour transformer, au prix de nombreuses heures de travail, un bloc de pierre brute extrait de la carrière en une œuvre digne de passer à la postérité. Même les inscriptions que nous aurions peut-être autrefois qualifiées avec arrogance de « laides », pourraient désormais mériter une certaine clémence si nous les comparons aux tentatives les plus abouties qui sont sorties de nos mains durant ces deux jours. 

Grâce à Thierry, nous avons également découvert l’importance de l’étude des traces laissées par les outils, qui offrent des informations significatives dans nos recherches, notamment lorsqu’il s’agit de spéculer sur les chronologies et les techniques.

Enfin, ce week-end nous a également donné l’occasion de rencontrer nos réalisateurs préférés, Philippe Kern et Stéphane Kowalczyk, qui continuent à travailler sur la série documentaire, ainsi que notre talentueuse photographe Eva Avril qui nous a accompagnés tout au long du voyage.

En résumé, bien qu’infructueux en termes de résultats esthétiques – en ce qui concerne nos tentatives de gravure d’inscriptions –, l’atelier nous a apporté, de manière expérimentale, un éclairage précieux sur nos sujets, mettant à contribution tous nos sens pour proposer un ensemble de connaissances complètement différent. Merci encore Thierry!

When Graph-East takes on experimental archaeology

Graph-East has just had its first weekend stone-cutting workshop. Thierry Gregor, a specialist in stone cutting techniques in Antiquity and Middle Ages, generously opened the doors of his workshop – and his home – for us to have a full immersion into the material and practical aspects of epigraphy. Accustomed to accessing to the past through theorical and speculative learning, a group of young researchers (Clément Dussart, Savvas Mavromatidis, Hasan Sercan Sağlam, Yaroslav Stadnichenko et Maria Aimé Villano) plunged into the remarkable experience of touching with hand the tools, the materials and the techniques. Saturday morning Thierry introduced us to the different kinds of tools that were used in Middle Ages: a variety of saws, hammers, pikes, drills and chisels. The tools were not displayed in drawings of photographs, they were there, in the flesh, so we could see their dimensions in comparison, their weigh and their actual colours and textures. We were then shown the different kinds of stones, limestones, marbles and granites, that we could touch, weigh and “play” so we could hear the sound that different materials emit when hit. At a later time, Thierry provided us with small blocks of limestone and proposed us to experiment with the tools. What a discovery! Perhaps for the first time, we realized how difficult it is to effectively use the tools, to perform movements that correspond to our intentions, to deal with fatigue, with dust, and with uncomfortable positions. Even more, when on Sunday morning we swapped limestone for marble, a much harder material. How not to evoke to our minds the beautiful inscriptions (and sculptures) we have seen throughout our studies, admiring even more the dexterity and creativity of those men and women that created them! And how not to acknowledge the level of technology and know-how implied in the tools and in the people capable of transforming, through many hours of work, the rough stone dwelling in a quarry into a significant object. Even the inscriptions that perhaps we would have once arrogantly called “ugly”, might deserve some mercy from now on, when compared to the best attempts we could do, during our workshop.

Thanks to Thierry we have also discovered the value of the traces left by the tools, which offer significant pieces of information to our research, in particular when speculating about chronologies and techniques.

Last but not least, this weekend also gave us the opportunity of meeting our favourite film makers, Philippe Kern and Stéphane Kowalczyk, who continue working on the documentary series, and our gifted photographer Eva Avril who accompanied us all the way.

To sum up, although unsuccessful in terms of aesthetical results – as far as our attempts at carving inscriptions are concerned –, the workshop provided us with precious insight on our subjects, in an experimental way, capable of activating both the senses and a completely different set of knowledge. Merci Thierry!

Webinar “Epigraphic Transmissions”

The SEMPER seminar on writing outside the manuscript world resumes this year as a transversal webinar, bringing together all the epigraphy research projects linked to the CESCM (the CIFM/Titulus, CARMECA, IGAMA, the ERC GRAPH-EAST), in partnership with the CRFJ Jerusalem. Nine sessions will take place between October 2021 and June 2022, one per month, around the theme “Epigraphic Transmissions”.

“Transmitting a message to the widest possible audience” is one of the functions of inscription. But what does this transmission consist of? What is it about and what does it involve? To speak of “epigraphic transmissions” makes it possible to question the idea not of permanence, which erases the relationship to time, but of continuity, which integrates the upheavals of history, the variations of interpretations, the transformations of the support. The continuous use of writing forms such as the capital (understood in the sense of a large letter placed in a bilinear system), the recurrence of certain funerary formulas that cross the Middle Ages and are still used in our modern languages, or the intentional material replacement of a stone inscribed in a wall, are three of the most obvious examples of the duration conveyed by the inscription. This continuity takes place through the passing on (trans-); it is inscribed in a temporal and/or spatial chain. It implies a movement, as shown by the cartography of epigraphic formulas in Europe or the transfers between East and West. It also puts forward the intermediaries who participate in this mesh, even this spiral.

Beyond the content and form of a message, the epigraphic text is also a trajectory, an itinerary in time, that of the history of its transmission on other media than its own support. Since the Middle Ages, inscriptions have been copied into manuscripts; in the 16th-17th centuries, printers redoubled their originality in order to faithfully reproduce and display these monumental texts; drawings, stamping, the first photographs in the mid-19th century, up to photogrammetry today, are all part of this transmission work. The work of publishing – because the publisher is a “passer” – must also be questioned.

This webinar will therefore be an opportunity, through this transversal theme, to collectively question the object of “inscription” as much as the history of the discipline of epigraphy itself, the staging of the work of history as a methodology in action, to borrow an expression from Étienne Anheim (Le travail de l’histoire).

The 9 sessions from October 2021 to June 2022 will take place with the same link Zoom below :

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89842541808?pwd=c0hyQ1o4OVR6OXFuZ0hHOU1vQmRKQT09

(ID de réunion : 898 4254 1808 ; Code secret : 013157)

Program until the end of 2021

  • Thursday, October 14, 10am-12pm: Elisabetta Scirocco (Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rome)« Dinamiche di ‘trasmissione epigrafica’ nella badia benedettina di Cava de’ Tirreni (Salerno): tradizione e creazione di una memoria monumentale ». Moderator: Maria Villano.
  • Thursday, November 25, 2-4pmJean-Baptiste Javel (IRAMAT CRP2A, Université Bordeaux Montaigne) et Thierry Grégor (CESCM, Université de Poitiers), « La basilique Saint-Eutrope de Saintes : Étude technique de deux inscriptions inédites »
  • Thursday, December 16, 2-4pm: Michele Bacci (Université de Friburg, Suisse), « Les graffitis de la Nativité de Bethléem, l’édition du manuscrit de Emérico Vicente Juhász, Pinturas y grafitos. Basílica de la Natividad en Belén (Milan: Edizioni Terra Santa, 2021) ». Moderators: Clément Dussart and Estelle Ingrand-Varenne.
  • Thursday, January 13, 10am-12pm: Antonino Tranchina (Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rome), « Ways of Indexicality. Graffiti and the Staging of the Sacred across the Norman South »
  • Thursday, February 17, 10am-12pm: Cécile Treffort (CESCM, Université de Poitiers), « La transmission manuscrite de la poésie épigraphique carolingienne »
  • Thursday, March 17, 10am-12pm: Vincent Debiais (EHESS, Paris), « Transmettre l’inscription par l’inscription : copier, refaire, augmenter les textes funéraires (Espagne, Empire, XIIIe-XVIe siècle) »
  • Thursday, April 7, 10am-12pm: Morgane Uberti (Universidad Complutense, Madrid), « Transmettre le temps : la date inscrite, entre temporalité et figure de l’histoire (Antiquité tardive, Moyen Âge) »
  • Thursday, May 19, 10am-12pm: Susanne Thürigen (GERMANISCHES NATIONALMUSEUM- Leibniz-Forschungsmuseum für Kulturgeschichte)
    « Objects that talk. Inscriptions on early modern table clocks »
    Moderator: Rachel Carslile (PhD candidate, Department of Art History, Florida State University)
  • Thursday, June 9, 10am-12pm: Rafał Quirini-Popławski (Jagiellonian University in Kraków), « Mission impossible between an inscription, a coat of arms and an ornament. The issue of assigning a “cultural identity” to the stone slabs in the late medieval Crimea »
    Moderator: Sercan Saglam (Post-doc member of Graph-East)

For more information: estelle.ingrand.varenne@univ-poitiers.fr 

The inscriptions in the Nativity Church of Bethlehem

Lecture Epigraphik in der Hollandstraße, 12 October 2021, 5:00 pm

Epigraphic Writing in the Nativity Church of Bethlehem. Case study of the ERC GRAPH-EAST, by Estelle Ingrand-Varenne

Seizing the opportunity to bring together people in a way not geographically feasible in normal times, the lecture will be given as a Zoom meeting. Even a larger online attendance should not affect a free-for-all discussion, the floor being opened for comments and questions by all participants.
If you are planning to attend the lecture, please register via an email to
andreas.rhoby@oeaw.ac.at.
Those who have registered will receive an email with the Zoom link on the 11th.
We are keen to make the talk available to a broad audience, so please feel free to share the invitation with anyone you think might be interested.
We look forward to welcoming a large audience!

Writing in the Nativity Church of Bethlehem

CONTACT:
Andreas Rhoby
andreas.rhoby@oeaw.ac.at