Sealing the Deal: The Ballycotton Brooch in Muslim-Carolingian Relations
30 January 2024, 6:15 pm–7:15 pm
The next event in the 2023-24 UCL Institute of Archaeology/British Museum Medieval Seminar Series, will be given by Sue Brunning (British Museum) on 30 January.
This event is free.
Room 612UCL Institute of Archaeology31-34 Gordon SquareLondonWC1H 0PYUnited Kingdom
The so-called ‘Ballycotton Brooch’ is one of the most intriguing survivals from Early Medieval Europe. This cross-shaped brooch of Carolingian style, dated to the late eighth century, was tailor-made to display an Islamic seal whose best parallels lie in the early Abbasid Caliphate. Its composition represents the conscious bringing together of artefacts from different political, cultural and religious spheres that were simultaneously separated by vast distances, while also being linked by long-distance communication networks. As such, it poses irresistible questions about the circumstances of its making. This talk will interrogate the seal’s movement from the Islamic East to the Carolingian West, challenging the common attribution to ‘viking’ activity. An alternative theory is proposed, in which the seal journeyed west with recorded diplomatic missions between the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (r. 786–809 CE), based in Baghdad, and the Carolingian emperor Charlemagne (r. 768–814), based in Aachen. Traditional doubts about the legibility of the seal’s Arabic inscription within its Carolingian context are also revisited.
The Medieval Seminar Series is sponsored by the World Archaeology Section at the UCL Institute of Archaeology and the British Museum.
- The programme for the 2023-24 Institute of Archaeology/British Museum Medieval Seminar Series is available here»
Seminar Series Convenors:
- Iain MacDonald (Institute of Archaeology)