2013 Symposium on “Identity & Authenticity”

January 1, 2014 in Abstracts of Conference Papers, Conference Announcement, Events, Exhibition

Identity & Authenticity

Creating, Recreating, Transmitting & Preserving Identities Across Time & Place

We held a Symposium at Princeton University on 22 & 23 March 2013 with the theme of “Identity & Authenticity: Creating, Recreating, Transmitting & Preserving Identities Across Time & Place”.   Here we publish the Symposium Posters, Program, and Abstracts of the Papers, with thanks to all our Sponsors, Contributors, and Participants.


Friday & Saturday 22 & 23 March 2013
McCormick 106, Princeton University

Poster 1 for "Identity & Authenticity" Symposium (22-23 March 2013)

Poster 1

Poster 2 for "Identity & Authenticity" Symposium (22-23 March 2013)

Poster 2


The challenges of shaping, reshaping, maintaining, conveying, and validating identity, both personal and collective, are perennial human concerns.  Our symposium explored subjects, regions, and materials from the early medieval period to the present day.  Presentations considered, for example, Western European and Syriac manuscript discoveries, Byzantine liturgical textiles, medieval seal-matrices and “forgeries,” Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic magical recipes from the Cairo Genizah, the transmission of Islamic paper, the reliquary of John the Baptist owned by the Knights of Malta and the Tzars, the medieval-style Hammond Castle in Massachusetts, the challenges and opportunities of collecting medieval manuscripts nowadays, and digitization projects dedicated to manuscripts and archives for teaching and research.


  • James Marrow and Emily Rose
  • John H. Rassweiler
  • Index of Christian Art
  • Barbara A. Shailor
  • The Samuel H. Kress Foundation
  • De Brailles Medieval Art (LLC)
  • Committee for the Study of Late Antiquity, Princeton University

We also thank the Department of Art & Archaeology of Princeton University for the rooms, media services, and facilities for the event.

Speakers and Moderators:

James Marrow at the "Identity & Authenticity" Symposium (2013), with photography by James Heidere

Having a Look

Opening Remarks

James H. Marrow (Department of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University)

Session 1. Investigating the Archives:  Detecting Spheres of Influence

Moderator:  Celia Chazelle (Department of History, The College of New Jersey)

Alan M. Stahl (Firestone Library, Princeton University), “The Virgin in the Garden:  The Making of a Pilgrimage Site in Medieval Venice”

Eleanor A. Congdon (Department of History, Youngstown State University), “Who was Antonio Contarini?  Solving the Prosopographical Riddle of a Venetian Merchant in the Datini Archives”

Ortal-Paz Saar (School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study / Tel Aviv University), “A Genizah Magical Fragment and Its European Parallels”

[Note:  Now published as “A Genizah Magical Fragment and Its European Parallels”, Journal of Jewish Studies, 65:2 (2014), 237–262, described here]

Session 2.  Imaging or Imagining Identity:  Recreating a Medieval Legacy

Moderator:  Colum Hourihane (Index of Christian Art, Princeton University)

Karl F. Morrison (Department of History, Rutgers University), “Assimilating the Libri Carolini in the Seventeenth Century”

John H. Rassweiler (The Rassweiler Collection, Princeton), “Some Experiences with the Validation of Medieval Seal-Matrices of the Common People”

Martha E. Easton (Department of Communication and the Arts, Seton Hall University), “Authenticity, Anachronism, and the Experience of the Past at Hammond Castle”

Session 3.  Shaping and Preserving Identity in the Syriac Church

Moderator:  Kathleen E. McVey (Department of History, Princeton Theological Seminary)

Philip Michael Forness (Department of History, Princeton Theological Seminary), “The Identities of a Saint: An Initial Inquiry into the Manuscript Tradition of the Homilies by Jacob of Sarug”

Jack B. Tannous (Department of History, Princeton University), “Syril of Scythopolis in Syriac:  Observations on a Manuscript from the Sinai New Finds”

George Kiraz (Editor in Chief, Gorgias Press / Department of Middle Eastern and South-East Asian Languages & Literature, Rutgers University), “The Syriac Orthodox Patriarchal Archive of Mardin:  Digitization and Challenges”

Session 4.  Creating Digitally-Enabled Manuscript Resources for Research & Teaching

Moderator:  James H. Marrow (Department of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University)

Thomas A. Carlson (Department of History, Princeton University / Beth Marduthuo Research Library, Piscataway), “Identity and Identification in the Digital Humanities:  The Challenges and Experience of Syriaca.org

Barbara A. Shailor (Department of Classics, Yale University), “A Mellon Foundation Project at Yale University:  The World of Digitally-Enabled Scholarship for Research and Teaching”

Session 5.  Discovering, Recovering, and Evaluating the Source Materials

Moderator:  Colum Hourihane

David W. Sorenson (Quincy, Massachusetts), “Recent Studies in Islamic Paper and What They Can Tell Us About Texts (and Images)”

Mildred Budny (Research Group on Manuscript Evidence), “A New Fragment of the Vitas Patrum from the Covers of an Early Printed Postille:  An Early Case of Western Paper?”

Scott Gwara (Department of English, University of South Carolina – Columbia / King Alfred’s Notebook, LLC & De Brailes Medieval Art LLC), “Medieval Manuscripts in the Strangest Places”

Rossitza and Ida at the Day 1 Reception of the 2013 Symposium, with photography by James Heidere

Enjoying the Company

Session 6.  Establishing or Re-Establishing Identities in the Byzantine World and Beyond

Moderator:  Mildred Budny

Henry D. Schilb (Index of Christian Art, Princeton University), “Serbian and Christian Identity in the Embroideries of the Nun Jefimija”

Rossitza B. Schroeder (Visiting Fellow in Hellenic Studies, Princeton University / Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California), “The New Chosen People:  The Old Testament in Late Byzantium”

Ida Sinkevič (Department of Art, Lafayette College), “The Afterlife of the Rhodes Hand of St. John the Baptist”

[Note:  This has been published here]

Demonstration:  Demonstrating Original Sources and Database Resources

Displays by:

Demonstration Session on 23 Mar 2013 at the "Identity & Authenticity" Symposium, with manuscripts on the table

Examining the Originals

Scott Gwara (De Brailes Medieval Art LLC)
David Sorenson (Specimens of Islamic Paper)
Eleanor Congdon (Specimens from the Datini Archive)
Thomas A. Carlson (The Syriac Reference Portal)


The Symposium Booklet, edited by Mildred Budny and laid out in RGME Bembino, contains the
2013 Symposium Program & Abstracts of the Papers.

[The version uploaded on 29 September 2014 corrects a couple of typographical mistakes in the version circulated at the event.]


Circulated online before the Symposium, the Program and Poster 2 are also available here on the online Calendar of the Program in Medieval Studies of Princeton University:

Medieval Studies Calendar Archive Princeton University

[Formerly here:  “http://web.princeton.edu/sites/medieval/images/RGME%20Symposium%20Program.pdf”]

RGME Symposium Poster


Photographs by James Heidere