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Sarton Medal Lecture 2023-2024
Sarton Medal Lecture 2023-2024
Vond plaats op woensdag 24 april 2024 - 17:30
auditorium of VANDENHOVE Centrum voor Architectuur en Kunst, Campus Boekentoren, Rozier 1, Ghent

Prof. dr. Robert Rubens, Chairman of the Ghent University Sarton Committee
Prof. dr. ir. Patrick De Baets, Dean of the Faculty of Enginnering and Architecture
Prof. dr. ir.-arch. Johan Lagae, Head of the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning


have the honour to invite you to the Sarton Lecture and the handing over of the Sarton Medal to

Prof. dr. M.Arch Lucia Allais

(Columbia University)



– Welcome by the Dean, Prof. dr. ir. Patrick De Baets

– Laudatio by Prof. dr. ir.-arch. Maarten Liefooghe, proximus

– Sarton Lecture by Prof. dr. M.Arch Lucia Allais:


‘The Protective Matrix: Monuments, Sandbags, and Apotropaia since 1900’

  • Handing over of the Sarton Medal by dr. Robert Rubens
  • Drink offered by the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture

A remarkable expressive architecture was invented over the course of the twentieth century through the international practice of protecting monumental structures with lattices of sandbags.

This lecture unfolds the history and significance of this practice, from the history of the humble sandbag to the evolving legal norms that surrounded debates about the “humanization of war” at the League of Nations. Ultimately Allais detects a spectrum of aesthetic ideologies behind this protective matrix, which all have in common a belief in apotropaia: the power of images to repel evil.

(Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence 23 January 1943.)


George Sarton (1884-1956), one of the founding fathers of the history of science as an academic discipline, was an alumnus of Ghent University. In 1912, one year after his graduation in physics and mathematics, he wrote to a friend: “J’ai décidé de vouer ma vie à l’étude désintéressée de l’histoire des sciences”. He established two leading journals in the field (Isis in 1912 and Osiris in 1934) and the History of Science Society. In 1984, at the centenary of Sarton’s birthday, Ghent University decided to establish a Sarton Chair of History of Science. Each year the Sarton committee, consisting of representatives of the faculties of Ghent University, selects the Sarton chair holder and the Sarton medallists. The Sarton chair holder and the medallists are invited to lecture on the history of science in the faculties of the university.

The lectures are published in the annual journal Sartoniana. (





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