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Falconry conference at New York University Abu Dhabi, March 2018

The Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA) has a record into the study of hunting that goes back to the early years of the institute. An interdisciplinary kick-off workshop in 2011 was dedicated to the archaeology and history of hunting in Northern Europe and Lithuania. Case studies covered the period from the late Palaeolithic to modern times, including a look on central Europe and methodologically oriented papers.

From that vantage point, a worthy subtopic – falconry – has been chosen for further detailed analysis, and this was triggered by exceptional Swedish burials from the period c. 600-900/950 which are, Early  Islamic falconry mosaic, Syria (redrawing: Lars Foged Thomsen).in fact, unique in European respects and beyond in their testimonial value for the practice of falconry. The scientific curiosity sparked by the question of the origin and early history of falconry – probably lying outside Europe – has led to two interdisciplinary workshops already.

The first such workshop took place in 2014 in Schleswig and saw the participation of c. 30 falconers and scientists. The much extended workshop publication with as many as 100 articles, edited by the senior falconer Karl-Heinz Gersmann and Oliver Grimm, covers a wide range of topics for Europe, northern Africa, Arabia, Central and East Asia and Mesoamerica, including falconers, natural scientists and a wide range of scholars representing the Humanities. The book titled ‘Raptor and human – falconry and bird symbolism throughout the millennia on a global scale’ will be published as the first volume in the newly founded series ‘Advanced studies on the archaeology and history of hunting, edited by the ZBSA’.

Fig. 3. Falconry  on a global scale. Green: areas with historical falconry, orange: Eurasian  Steppe, presumable area of origin (map: ZBSA, Jürgen Schüller)

The second falconry workshop will take place in early March 2018 in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), hosted by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and the Emirates Falconers’ Club. The c. 30 workshop lectures have been gathered and will be moderated by Dr. Oliver Grimm, acting on behalf of the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archeology but also as fellow of the Humanities Research Fellowship Program from NYUAD. The second falconry workshop will focus on premodern raptor and falconry images on a global scale. In its very core, images of archaeological and art-historical provenance will be considered and discussed, but in order to allow a broad, sophisticated contexualisation, history of religion, raptor biology, falconry and social history are taken into account too.

Goshawk (photo: W. Bednarek).

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