A collection of Arabic manuscripts in Germany

Within the framework of the Cultural Heritage Cluster, COSIMENA hosted in February 2020 a public lecture evening with Prof. Dr. Albrecht Fuess. The professor focused on the years the German explorer Ulrich Jasper Seetzen spent in Cairo (1807 -1809) and gave an overview of the still understudied Gotha collection of Arabic manuscripts. The Gotha collection counts as the third biggest of its kind in Germany.

Prof. Dr. Albrecht Fuess studied History and Islamic Studies at the University of Cologne and Cairo University. Since 2010 he is a Professor of Islamic Studies at the Centre for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS) at the Philipps-University Marburg. He is currently working on a project comparing the system of governance of Mamluks, Safavids, and Ottomans in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Prof. Dr. Fuess’ lecture informed about the late 18th and early 19th century which depicts an age of exploration in German Academia. Scholars travelled the world in order to explore it and to collect new and fascinating items. These explorations were quite often financed by local princes in Germany who wanted to excel with their collections and outshine their neighbouring principalities. The scholar Ulrich Jasper Seetzen from the town of Jever convinced the prince of Gotha in Thuringia to provide him with funds to travel to Arabia and buy objects and manuscripts. Ulrich Jasper Seetzen happened to enrich the Gotha Collection of approximately 2.700 exemplars.

Prof. Dr. Fuess held a lecture which was presentation-based and gave the audience the chance to ask questions after the lecture. Experts as well as students made use of it and actively engaged in the discussion with Prof. Dr. Fuess. The event was rounded off with a dinner reception providing further opportunities for networking and exchange.

Author: Felicitas-Johanna Burmann

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