What is now the town of Lincoln in Lincolnshire, England was settled more than two thousand years ago and, in the first century C.E., it became the capital of the Roman province that covered eastern England. Flourishing during the medieval period as an inland port and a center of wool production, the town was visited by pilgrims and became home to several communities of friars. They were drawn to the region by its cathedral, the third largest in England, consecrated in 1092 and reconstructed one hundred years later in the Gothic style. Today, its looming towers still command the view above a medieval town center making Lincoln a valuable destination for an aspiring art historian particularly interested in the later Middle Ages. During the summer of 2005, I spent eight weeks working in the Lincoln Cathedral Library, which gave me the rare opportunity to live in this region of extraordinary history while assisting with a project that would itself expand my knowledge of medieval culture and art.
The libraries of the Lincoln Cathedral contain manuscripts that date as far back as one thousand years. The Medieval Library was built in the 1420's and is now used for regular exhibitions of books and manuscripts. The Wren Library, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1675, houses an important collection of early printed books. My project was to create a computer database classifying the woodcuts from the library's holdings of incunabula and early printed books . It is estimated that around five hundred of the books printed before 1535 contain woodcuts. I compared these images with those catalogued in Edward Hodnett's English Woodcuts, 1480 to 1535 . This involved digital photography of the woodcuts and the creation of subject fields to enable cross-referencing.
The librarians arranged a visit to the Cathedral Works Department where we were shown around the stonemason's workshop and were allowed to see pieces of the Dean's Eye rose window on the light box. I attended cathedral concerts, Shakespeare plays, and a study day in the Wren Library. On the weekends, I traveled to London, York, Nottingham, and Haworth (the home of the lovely Brontë sisters). I took a trip to Cambridge with the library staff and visited King's College Chapel and the Wren Library at Trinity College.
My summer work inspired my choice of thesis topic - I am now writing on a subject involving fifteenth and sixteenth century woodcut images. But, what I learned from my internship that was most lasting came from my experience of the cathedral itself. I remember seeing Lincoln's towering West Front for the first time, not over the rooftops of the town but as a image projected in a darkened Bryn Mawr classroom. Until I spent a summer in Lincoln, I had not truly realized that its Gothic monument was in fact still the center of so many lives. In the morning, choir men walked their dogs around the circling drive and stonemasons walked the roof. Organ music often drifted into the cloister where students from the Minster School took their lunches. Many of my co-workers, as children, had played rowdy games dangerously close to the chapter house windows. In the short time I'd spent working in the cathedral library, I grew to love this town in eastern England and was fortunate to be among those people whose faith and care had sustained this place for more than a thousand years.
In the summer of 02, thanks to the Center for the Visual Culture, I participated to the 7th season of the Amuq Valley Regional Project, directed by A. Yener and T.J. Wilkinson of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.
Located at the Northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea, the Amuq Valley has been the object of extensive archaeological campaigns since the 30s, by virtue of the extraordinary number of sites that surround the city of Antioch, a center of paramount importance in the history of the Roman empire and
The Amuq Valley Regional Project has operated in the area since 1995. It is a multi-dimensional investigation encompassing field activity and archaeological surveys aimed at addressing problems on the settlement rational in the valley. A vast array of sites thus has offered the ideal conditions for implementing this problem-oriented research, yet if on the one hand the settlement patterning for the III and II millennium B.C. is rather well understood, on the other hand the heavy "Romanization" of Antiochs rural landscape poses a set of challenging questions regarding town-country relationship, connectivity and administrative framework tout court. The formidable density of Roman settlements rigorously monitored and recorded between1995 and 2001, along with those that I surveyed under the direction of T. Wilkinson in the season 2002, have proven the feasibility of an approach that addresses the above mentioned problems. Hence, by means of the analysis of continuity in site occupation, the dispersion of individual farmsteads, villae and villages, along with the study of surface collections, we can now provide insights into the relationship between the metropolis and the countryside, assessing the impact of Roman agricultural systems in the region of Antioch. In addition, we have tackled another set of problems intimately linked to the previous ones:
- the understanding of land tenure in the High Roman empire
- site hierarchy
- distribution of wealth
By having implemented an approach of this sort, we are now able to gauge the economy of the region, its response to changes in the local environment and the appearance of new socio-economic dynamics during the Early Roman period, among which the most apparent are the consolidation of late Hellenistic settlements and the trend towards the formation of large estates (starting around the mid-I century AD).
Overall, the season 02 was then highly productive in terms of areas of survey covered and in the number
of sites and stretches of Roman roads GPS mapped and immediately inserted in the regions GIS. Also, at a personal level, participating to this project was rewarding insofar it gave me the opportunity to lay down my dissertation plan, which will be based on the problems that I mentioned above, economy and urbanism in the territory of Antioch in the early empire. Without your generosity and support none of this would have been possible. Again, let me thank you and the Center for the Visual Culture for the extraordinary kindness of your grant.