Crusader landscapes in the Medieval Levant

Dr Micaela Sinibaldi, Acting Deputy Director at our Kenyon Institute and Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University on the launch of the 2016 volume, Crusader Landscapes in the Medieval Levant: The Archaeology and History of the Latin East.

Upon his retirement at Cardiff University, Prof. Denys Pringle’s  colleagues suggested a Festschrift – an updated overview of Crusader Archaeology and History in the Levant. Along with three colleagues, all Denys’ former students, Kevin Lewis, Balázs Major, Jennifer Thompson and assisted by Prof. Peter Edbury as editorial consultant, we formed an editorial team and invited potential authors to contribute to the book; their enthusiastic response was nearly overwhelming

We soon realized that we were faced with a huge challenge: preparing a volume composed of 27 chapters in only 22 months, without any funds secured. Thanks to the participation of so many leading scholars in the field along with a plan to include 105 illustrations, all our funding applications were successful and we were offered a contract with University of Wales Press.

CBRL was the main funding body, not only for the book production, but also for our four book launches: Cardiff, London, Jerusalem and Amman. There was additional funding from the Institute of Historical Research in London, the Robert Kiln Charitable Trust, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust and the Barakat Trust. Endorsement came from Prof. Hugh Kennedy (School of Oriental and African Studies), Prof. Christopher Tyerman (University of Oxford) and Prof. Jonathan Phillips (Royal Holloway, University of London).

A conference at Cardiff University in honour of Denys Pringle was the ideal opportunity for the volume’s authors to present their contributions with an initial launch. Organised by  a team of Denys’ PhD students, the conference took place over two days in September 2016. At a second book launch at the British Academy in London, Prof. Jonathan Phillips gave a lecture on the memory of the Crusades.

The volume was launched internationally with an event at CBRL’s Kenyon Institute in Jerusalem in October 2016 at which Denys Pringle gave a lecture on the walls of Ascalon, his current field project; many of our authors based locally were present for the event.

For the April 2017 launch in Amman, we partnered with the Jordan Museum who provided a fitting venue for an event that was attended by the Italian Ambassador to Jordan. On this occasion I presented a lecture on Petra in the Crusader period, one of the chapters of our volume. The Jordan Times published a review of the event here.

The book launches were a great opportunity to thank the authors for their important contributions and to recognise the generous support of our sponsors. As editors, we are proud of the volume we have put together, which involves many world-class scholars. The book offers and an updated overview on the field of Crusader studies, which is obviously still a very vibrant one,

Thank you to all those who hosted and helped with the organisation of these book launches – these events were a fantastic opportunity to share our work. I would also like to express my deep gratitude to my colleagues co-editors for the dedication, passion and professional work they have put into this challenging but certainly very exciting and rewarding project.