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Workshop Early Photography of the Middle East - In Contact with Collections

On Thursday, May 16, Leiden University Libraries is organizing a workshop on early photography of the Middle East. In the workshop, curator Maartje van den Heuvel shows photos of three adventurous Dutch nineteenth-century travel and photography pioneers. They created beautiful photos and photo albums of: North Africa along the Nile, the Islamic holy city of Mecca, displaying its pilgrim rituals, and Persia - today's Iran - and Iraq.

No specific prior knowledge is required to participate. The workshop will be held twice, from 15:00 to 16:00 and from 16:15 to 17:15 in the Leiden University Library, Witte Singel 27. The workshop is organised on the occasion of the upcoming opening of the new Middle Eastern Library.

Register before 13 May.

Alexine Tinne or her party, European people on board a Dhahabiyah on the Nile, between 1862-1864, albumine print, [PK-F-2024-0004a]

The Levant

Travel with Alexine Tinne (1835-1869) on a classic Voyage au Levant in 1856-57, from The Hague. You can see how she became interested in travel and photography, using her original eight-part map of Palestine, drawn by cartographer and landscape artist C.W.M. van de Velde, who was also Alexine's guide on that trip. Browse through historical photo albums of the British photo pioneer Francis Frith, whom Tinne met in Egypt. The workshop will also feature Alexine Tinne's famous photographs in their original form, which she took in 1862 during her own expedition in search of the origin of the Nile.


See how, two decades later, the Leiden Arabist Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936) entered Mecca. A city until then inaccessible to Christian Europeans, by converting to Islam. He photographed extensively in 1885 for his later publications Bilderatlas and Bilder aus Mekka. Finally, you will see albums with landscapes, monuments and lifestyles of erstwhile Persia, photographed in the late nineteenth century by the Rotterdam entrepreneur Albert Hotz (1855-1930).

Middle Eastern Library

In the new Middle Eastern Library, Leiden University Libraries brings together the rich Special Collections, ranging from manuscripts and rare books about the Islamic, Hebrew, Semitic and Armenian world, collections about Egyptology, Assyriology and the Ancient Near East, together with the modern collections about the entire Middle East region and Islam. The Middle Eastern Library will be housed in the Herta Mohr building next to the University Library and will be opened at the beginning of the 2024-2025 academic year. To celebrate the new library, activities for the interested public are organized from April to October 2024.

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