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Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship (EOS) is a major, joint research enterprise, funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) under the Cultural Encounters scheme. The collaborative research project Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship involves six academic and a number of non-academic partners in the Uk, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland. Our project presents the unique opportunity to combine the expertise and the knowledge of leading European historians of early modern times and of oriental studies and to tackle the complex history of European scholarly encounters with the Orient.

The project aims to document the scholarly encounter with the Orient between 1580 and 1800. It is describing how the exchange of knowledge and of ideas between Europe and the Orient was organised and structured. It is following and comparing the conceptual transformations which this encounter has initiated in Biblical studies, the study of religions, in the teaching and learning of Arabic and other Oriental languages, in literature and poetry, and in historical and anthropological thinking. Hence the project is documenting the change from a religious to a cultural perspective on Oriental societies

By focusing mainly on the Protestant part of Europe, this project singles out the Reformation and its aftermath as the central driver of early modern scholarly encounters with the Orient. Religious tensions, contests and alliances between the Christian sectarian groups and confessions were powerful catalysts for the refinement of the study of Hebrew and the discovery of its cognates Arabic, Samaritan, Syriac, Chaldaic, and Ethiopic, the huge collections of manuscripts in theses languages, translations of Oriental literature, the exploration and description of Oriental everyday culture and the interest in artefacts and antiquities from the East.