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Exhibition “Ibn Khaldun, the Mediterranean in the 14th century: the rise and fall of Empires”
article [ Culture ]
The Real Alcázar Palace in Seville, 19 May-30 September 2006.

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by [NMP ]

2006-06-10  |     | 

Press release :

The Exhibition “Ibn Khaldun, the Mediterranean in the 14th century: the rise and fall of empires” will look at the political, economic and social relationships between East and West and between Europe and the Arab-north African world in the 14th century. In this broad geographical framework, united by the Mediterranean, European and Muslim states are represented through their culture and conflicts,their commercial exchange and their economic organisation, and also through the artistic legacy that marked the period. Both worlds will be dealt with because it is impossible to understand one without the other, and because, beyond the conflicts, there was definitely fruitful cultural, commercial and human exchange at the time.

At the same time, we also want to show visitors the contributions of al-Andalus civilisation to different fields of knowledge, its political, commercial, intellectual evolution, and the luxury of the court in Seville. We also aim to show the historic role of Seville and Spain in the 14th century. Seville has always been important as a major river port between the Atlantic Ocean and inland Andalusia, and a crossroads linking Andalusia with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula.

This exhibition and the cultural activities associated with it aim to contribute to the promotion of Seville, Andalusia and Spain as emblematic places for encounters
with past, present and future. They aim to strengthen relations between north and south, between East and West, encouraging rapprochement between different cultures, and aim to bring a large number of visitors from Spain and abroad to the exhibition and to Seville and Andalusia in general.

The beautiful Mudejar palace, the Real Alcázar in Seville, was witness to the meeting between Ibn Khaldun and Pedro I “the cruel”, and is now the venue for this exhibition with more than one hundred pieces on display from Spain and overseas. This building is a beautifully conserved monument, as well as being the oldest royal palace in use by Spanish and European monarchies to this day. The Real Alcázar Palace is, today, the most outstanding civil construction in Seville, and is the centre of attention for visitors to the city. They come to this monument to see the impressive historic/cultural heritage that can now be appreciated in all its glory thanks to various
restoration projects carried out in recent years. The Real Alcázar is, then, the prime exhibit.

The exhibition is organised by the Presidency Department and the Culture Department of the Regional Government of Andalusia, through the Legado Andalusí
Foundation. The official exhibition sponsor is the El Monte Foundation, co-sponsored by Telefónica and Mapfre. It has collaboration from: Seville City Council; the Spanish Government Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; the State Company for
Cultural Action Overseas (SEACEX); the Real Alcázar Trust; the Seville-NODO Foundation; the Tourism and Sports Department of the Regional Government of
Andalusia; the Education and Science Department of the Regional Government of Andalusia; UNESCO; ALESCO; the Tres Culturas Foundation; the Euro Árabe Foundation; the Averroes Committee; ONCE; the José Manuel Lara Foundation in the area of editorial projects. The exhibition has already been presented at UNESCO
headquarters (Paris), coinciding with the General Conference.

The exhibition deals with the events that shook the 14th century such as the struggles to form and consolidate the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula, the Hundred Years War that devastated Europe, the black death that struck around the years 1348-1350, “the most deadly disaster in history”, which forgave neither country nor frontier, affecting Europeans and Muslims alike. The 14th century is also the historical context for palace intrigues, constant struggles and successive changes of government in the Muslim and north African worlds, and in al-Andalus too.

The exhibition’s exploration of the century in question centres on Ibn Khaldun – the world’s most renowned Muslim thinker – in 2006, the 6th centenary of his death. Ibn Khaldun had al-Andalus ancestry and he got to know Andalusia living in the Nasrid court of Mohammed V. He was later sent by the court as ambassador before Pedro I “the cruel” in Seville, where he met with the monarch in the Alcázar. He was a
social historian and celebrated author of Muqqadima. He does not limit himself to a history of events as his predecessors had done. He was a historian concerned by the logic of empires, by their rise and fall and he made a considerable contribution to
reflections on the formation of states. He belonged to a decisive period in the history of nations, where the West would take the lead, mainly on account of innovations regarding economy and social organisation. Ibn Khaldun is considered the first modern historian.


The museographic project starts with Ibn Khaldun’s stays in Seville and Granada between 1363 and 1365. At that time he must have walked through the so-named Patio de Crucero (Cross Patio – built by Alfonso X and now very different to what it was then), the Sala de la Justicia (Justice Room – built by Alfonso XI) and especially the Palace of king Don Pedro, built between 1364 and 1366. This palace is the central piece of the exhibition, and its excellent state of conservation make it the ideal place to show the architecture, décor and luxury of the Mudejar court that Ibn Khaldun would have witnessed.

The exhibition is divided into the following sections: “The 14th century: times and spaces”; “The situation of states”; “Wars and expansion”; “Merchants and merchandise”; “Demography and apocalypse”; “Artistic geography”; “Historical profile
and cultural contributions of Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406)”; “The road towards the Renaissance” and “Seville in the 14th century”.

Parallel to this, a catalogue of studies will be published, along with a catalogue of exhibits as well as works such as “Seville in the 14th century”, in collaboration with the J.M. Lara Foundation, the book, “Ruy González de Clavijo’s ambassadorship to
Tamerlane”, the book, “Ibn Khaldun, the very wise man” by Salem Himmich in collaboration with the J.M. Lara Foundation, the minutes of the congress “Arab manuscripts in Spain and morocco. A tribute to Ibn Khaldun”, the publication of the CD “The Alcázar Palace of Pedro I in Seville. The palaces seen by Ibn Khaldun” and the CD “Arab manuscripts in the 14th century”.


Among the exhibition’s most important international pieces, special mention should be made of: Altar panel from the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, Great Britain), three glasses from The Nasser Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, manuscript from the Universal History by Ibn Khaldun (French National Library), helmet of Sultan Ibn Qalawun, Egypt or Syria (1293-1341) (Royal Museum of Art and History, Brussels), Sultanabad bowl (Caloustre Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon), astrolobe quadrant (The David Collection, Copenhagen), lectern for Koran (National Museum, Damascus), al-Muqqadima manuscript from Topkapi Palace (Istanbul), north African Nautical Map (Ambrosiana Library, Milan).

The most noteworthy Spanish pieces include: Standard from the Battle of Salado (Toledo Cathedral), priory seat of Doña Blanca de Aragón (Lleida Diocesan and Regional Museum), manuscript letter of the Sultan of Granada to king Jaime II of Aragon (Royal Aragon Archive), manuscript of the Hafsid sovereign of Tunisia to king Jaime II of Aragon (Royal Aragon Archive) and a selection of 70 coins (Royal Mint, Madrid)


Visit 10am-7pm, tickets at the Real Alcázar Palace.
Visit 8-11.30pm, tickets at the Real Alcázar Palace and El Corte Inglés 902 400
Exhibition information, tel: +34 958 22 59 95


More information on the website:
Exhibition “Ibn Khaldun, the Mediterranean in the 14th century: the rise and fall of Empires”

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