Jennifer Scarce

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Jennifer Scarce
Expert on Middle Eastern Culture

Jennifer studied Classical and Ancient Middle Eastern History at University College London before moving to Edinburgh as Principal Curator of Middle Eastern Cultures in the National Museum of Scotland. She continues to be an Honorary Lecturer, Middle Eastern Cultures, at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, where she advises postgraduate students. She is also a research and travel consultant, freelance curator and author. She currently serves on the Advisory Council of IQSA (International Qajar Studies Association) which specialises in the history and culture of Iran from the late 18th to early 20th centuries. She is also a Council member and Trustee of BIPS (British Institute of Persian Studies) which covers the archaeology and history of Iran of all periods for both a specialist and general public. She has arranged many permanent and temporary exhibitions of Middle Eastern Culture for the National Museum of Scotland. She has travelled widely in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, Iran and Turkey - Oman and the Arab Gulf States, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Romania - collecting contemporary textiles and dress for the Museum's collections and pursuing varied research projects - Ottoman Turkish court dress , the tilework decoration of 19th century Iranian architecture, the material culture of North Africa and the Arab world, carpet weaving in Romania. She has worked with teams of archaeologists at the medieval Persian Gulf port of Siraf and at the excavations of early settlements in Oman. She has completed a catalogue of the collections of 19th century Iranian tiles in the Victoria and Albert Museum which will be entered on the Museum's online data base. In 2012 she received a scholar's residency at the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art in Honolulu to work on the Iranian collections. She is currently working on a conference -Travellers in Ottoman lands - the Botanical Legacy - to be held 13-14 May 2017 at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. She is interested in the medical doctors who worked for the Persian Telegraph Department in Iran during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and also in European travellers to the Middle East especially those of Scottish origin. Her many publications include articles and books on Middle Eastern dress and textiles mainly from Iran, Turkey and Morocco, the ethnography of Kuwait, Romanian carpet weaving and Domestic Culture of the Middle East - a study written to accompany an exhibition in the National Museum of Scotland, an essay on dress for the catalogue of an exhibition - The Fascination of Persia, The Persian-European Dialogue in Seventeenth Century Art and Contemporary Art from Tehran held at the Rietberg Museum Zurich in 2013, and an introduction for a book on Decorative Textiles from Arab and Islamic Cultures. Publications in progress include an article on Lord Byron and Greek National Dress and a proposal for a book on the tilework decoration of buildings of 19th century Iran. She continues to be an invited speaker to national and international conferences and specialist groups in UK, Europe, USA and the Middle East. She has lectured for many tours to the Middle East and North Africa including cruises to the Red Sea to visit archaeological sites in Jordan and Egypt. She recently lectured for two tours to Jordan in December 2013 and April 2014, a tour to Romania in 2014, and a cruise on Fred Olsen's Boudicca to the Red Sea.

1. The Swagger Portrait Europeans in Middle Eastern Dress. European diplomats, merchants, soldiers, educators, romantic adventurers and artists travelled in increasing numbers to the territories of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, of which Egypt was a province from the 16th century onwards. A shared reaction to their new environment was the adoption of local dress for practical reasons - courtesy to their host country, safety and anonymity. They also came to like their new clothes and wore them with great style and panache which is revealed in both surviving portraits and memoirs. 2. Cairo Mother of Cities Cairo is one of the most stimulating cities in the Middle East famed for its eventful history and its dominant role in contemporary Arab culture. The range and richness of Cairo's architectural history is unique - Coptic Christian churches, the mosques, houses, and bazaars of the Islamic period dating from the 9th to 19th centuries, the palaces and public buildings of the modern city. Additionally Cairo represents the culture of Pharaonic Egypt through the collections of the Egyptian Museum and the world famous Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza all within easy reach of the city. 3. Dress and jewellery traditions of the Arab world. The Middle East has a long history and well-deserved reputation for the range and quality of its textile production, richness of dress and jewellery at all levels of society. Clothes and jewellery were important as symbols of rank and wealth, diplomatic gifts, treasured family heirlooms and dowry items. 4. Culinary cultures of the Arab world. Food is one of the most important features of the Arab world and of the Middle East in general. It is based on a sound tradition of healthy and seasonal ingredients indigenous to each area and also reflects new influences - for example the introduction of tomatoes, potatoes and peppers from the Spanish Americas. Arab food has had a great impact on the cooking of Sicily, Spain, France and Britain especially in the use of spices. In social culture special dishes featured in the rituals of court life, religious practice, family ceremonies such as weddings. There is also a rich literature of cookery books and technical manuals in Arabic, Persian and Turkish with many descriptions of feasts. 5. Oman - land of frankincense. Oman which is a large country strategically located at the entrance to the Persian Gulf is one of the six Arab states which make up the Gulf Co-operation Council. Geographically Oman is varied ranging from the central desert to the seafaring communities of the coast and the rich tropical vegetation of the south. Oman has a history whose beginnings have currently been traced back to the 4th Millennium B.C., many contacts through trade with the powerful states of ancient Assyria and Persia. Islam arrived in Oman in the 7th century and continues in the Ibadi tradition which stresses simplicity and tolerance which is seen in the plain styles of mosque architecture. Remarkable features of Oman are the spectacular fortresses in both city and desert. 6. Cleopatra - serpent of the Nile Queen Cleopatra (69-30 B.C.) was the last ruler of Pharaonic Egypt who tried to prevent her kingdom from conquest by the Romans intent on expanding their empire. She was not Egyptian, but of Macedonian Greek origin, a descendant of the Ptolemies who had acquired Egypt as their prize after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. By all accounts she was a competent ruler who ,apart from speaking Greek, had taken the trouble to learn the ancient Egyptian language spoken by most of her subjects. She has been maligned by relentless Roman propaganda depicting her a siren who corrupted honourable Romans. She has been portrayed as a tragic heroine of plays from Shakespeare to Shaw and as a glamorous heroine of many films including the sumptuous spectacle Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. 7. Petra - the Rose Red City. The magnificent site of Petra, one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, is one of the principal attractions of a visit to Jordan which can be reached from the capital Amman and the Gulf of Aqaba. Here the impressive remains of a treasury, theatre, temples, monasteries and rock-cut tombs, all carved from local red sandstone in a fusion of Graeco-Roman and regional architectural styles. reflect the wealth and power of the Nabatean Arabs (6th - 2nd centuries B.C.) who dominated the caravan trade routes between the Middle East and Rome. Petra had declined by the 13th century A.D. and was lost to mainstream visitors until the Swiss traveller Jean Louis Burckhardt discovered it in 1812. The Scottish painter, David Roberts, who visited Petra in 1839, was the first visitor to record the monuments in detail. All of these lectures are illustrated with powerpoint presentations. As Jennifer has a wide experience of the Middle East she can prepare additional lectures on subjects to suit the itinerary of the cruise. She is prepared to introduce lectures on the archaeology and culture of Morocco , and the city of Istanbul.

ExpertiseArabic Culture & Studies Archaeology History - Classical
Cruise Experience as Speaker/TutorNo Cruise Experience details provided.


History - Classical