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Article

Stephen Hill

(Margaret Lowthian)

(b Washington, Co. Durham, July 14, 1868; d Baghdad, 11/July 12, 1926).

English archaeologist and architectural historian. The first woman to achieve a first-class honours in modern history at Oxford University, she travelled widely in Europe, Japan and especially the Middle East in the 1890s, achieving fluency in a number of European languages as well as in Persian, Turkish and Arabic. She developed an interest in archaeology and architecture that was reflected in an authoritative set of articles on the Early Byzantine churches of Syria and southern Turkey, based on her travels in 1905. Her first major travel book, The Desert and the Sown, contains a mixture of travellers’ tales and archaeological information, as does her Amurath to Amurath. Between 1905 and 1914 she made archaeological studies of the Early Byzantine and Early Islamic monuments of Turkey, Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq). In 1905 and 1907 she surveyed Binbirkilise with Sir William Ramsay; their book, The Thousand and One Churches, remains the authoritative account of this important site. The architectural recording by survey and photography at Binbirkilise was carried out by Bell and is a lasting monument in its own right. Bell’s interest in Anatolia was inspired by Josef Strzygowski and his book ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Chaumont, Haute-Marne, Jan 21, 1881; d Paris, July 31, 1965).

French archaeologist and art historian, active in Iran. Godard qualified as an architect at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and in 1910 became involved with the urban planning of Baghdad. At this time, he began to develop an interest in the archaeology and art of the Middle East. He visited Egypt and Syria and, in 1923, went to Afghanistan to research Buddhist remains. In 1928 he settled in Iran, where he lived until 1960, except for the years 1953–6. During his years in Iran he directed the College of Fine Arts, Tehran, and the Department of Antiquities, founded the Archaeological (Iran Bastan) Museum and drew up plans for the museums of Mashhad and Abadan. He also initiated the documentation and restoration of many ancient monuments and archaeological remains and gained access to sites previously forbidden to non-Muslims. He published many of the principal monuments of Iran in such learned journals as ...

Article

Ye. V. Zeymal’

Site in Tajikistan, 25 km west of Dushanbe above the confluence of the Khanaka River and the Kafirnigan River. The pisé walls of the fortress, arched gateways and flanking towers of fired brick, two madrasas and the nearby mosque date from the 16th–19th century, when the fortress was the residence of the Hissar bek. Excavations (1980–82) by Ye. V. Zeymal’ revealed that the fortress was erected on an artificial hill comprising occupation layers dating at least from the 3rd–2nd century bc onwards. The large Tup-khona burial ground containing Yueh-chih and Kushana burials (1st century bc–3rd century ad) was clearly associated with the inhabitants of the Hissar site. Another burial ground near Hissar appears to be earlier than the 7th century ad in date. The tentative identification of the Hissar Fortress with the town of Shuman, mentioned in written sources of the 10th–12th century, has not yet been substantiated by reliable evidence. The site is now a historical and archaeological museum reserve, and the finds are housed in the Tajikistan Academy of Sciences, Donish Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography in Dushanbe....

Article

Alastair Northedge

[Khirbet el Mefjer].

Early Islamic palace in the Wadi’l-Nuway‛ima north of Jerico, Jordan. Excavated by R. W. Hamilton between 1934 and 1948, the complex consists of a square residential building, bath complex, mosque, enclosed forecourt with fountain and rear service building, all finely built of sandstone ashlar masonry and contained in an enclosure of about 60 ha. Construction of the complex was unfinished when much apparently collapsed in the great earthquake of 747, although occupation continued into the 9th century. The residence took the form of a two-storey fort (67 m square) with half-round buttresses on the exterior and a projecting gateblock. The central colonnaded courtyard was surrounded with rooms, and it contains the entrance to an underground suite (Arab. sirdāb) paved with mosaics. Carved stucco dados survive from the portal, which was surmounted by an audience hall. The bath complex lies to the north of the residence. It had a projecting rectangular portal, decorated with a stucco statue of a prince in Persian dress. The entrance was surmounted by a dome on pendentives, decorated with figures of dancers. The main room, a grand audience hall, had 11 apses and 16 piers that supported a vaulted roof with a central cupola; the plan derives from the quincunx basilica. The floor is covered with 39 adjoining panels of geometric mosaics, the largest single floor mosaic to survive from the ancient world. In the apse opposite the entrance is a cryptic mosaic depiction of an ethrog (fruit of the citron) and a knife. Attached to the hall on the north is a 33-seat latrine, a small 4-room hypocaust bath (the cold bath was situated in the main hall) and a private audience room (Arab. ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Kilmarnock, Aug 18, 1835; d Edinburgh, July 3, 1900).

Scottish soldier, archaeologist, diplomat and collector of Iranian art. He was educated at Glasgow University, and in 1855 he obtained a commission in the Royal Engineers. The following year he joined the expedition of Charles Newton to Halikarnassos, which resulted in the discovery of the Mausoleum and the acquisition of its sculptures for the British Museum. In 1860 with E. A. Porcher, Murdoch Smith formed at his own expense an expedition to Cyrene in Libya. From this expedition he returned with Greek sculptures and inscriptions (London, BM). In 1863 he was selected for service on the Iranian section of a proposed telegraph line from Britain to India, and in 1865 he became its director in Tehran, holding that post for the next 20 years. He initiated his collecting activities for the South Kensington (later Victoria and Albert) Museum in 1873 when he offered his services as an agent. From 1873 to 1885...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

Early Islamic palace in Iraq, located in the desert on the Wadi‛Ubayd almost 200 km south of Baghdad. The ruins of this fortified palace provide important evidence for Islamic architecture and its decoration in the late 8th century ad. The site, known to several 18th-century travellers, was rediscovered by L. Massignon in 1908 and quickly visited and studied by Bell, Reuther and others, who dated it to the Sasanian (ad 226–645) or early Islamic (7th century ad) period. Creswell (1932–40) circumstantially identified it as the palace of ‛Isa ibn Musa (d 783/4), a powerful member of the ruling Abbasid family, but Caskel later argued that it was the palace of ‛Isa ibn ‛Ali and dated it ad 762. The outer enclosure (175×169 m) is built of slabs of limestone rubble set in heavy mortar. Its walls, which once had a parapet, were originally about 19 m high. A round tower marks each corner, with half-round towers spaced regularly between. A gate in the centre of each side is flanked by quarter-round towers, except on the north, where the main entrance is expanded with a projecting block. The north entrance leads to the palace proper (112×82 m), which is adjacent to the outer enclosure on the north. The palace consists of an entrance complex, with a small mosque to its right, a large open court with engaged pilasters, a great vaulted iwan leading to a square hall and flanking apartments. On either side of this central tract are two self-contained residential units arranged around smaller courts. Excavations by the Iraqi Department of Antiquities in ...