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Article

Judith McKenzie, Gordon Campbell, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, Wladyslaw B. Kubiak, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Egyptian city situated on the Mediterranean coast west of the delta of the River Nile, capital of Egypt from c. 320 bc to ad 642, seaport and centre of ancient Greek culture.

Judith McKenzie

Alexandria was founded in 331 bc by Alexander, on the site of the small Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis. Its location, with access by canal to the River Nile, enabled it to become an important and highly prosperous trading centre, and by c. 320 bc Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Ptolemaic times (304–30 bc) it became a major centre of learning, with famous scholars of literature, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and geography, and it played a major role in the transmission of Greek culture to the East.

With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII (51–30 bc), by Octavian (later called Augustus) at the Battle of Actium in 30...

Article

Amman  

Adnan Hadidi, Alastair Northedge and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. ‛Amman; anc. Rabbath Ammon, later Philadelphia]

Capital of the kingdom of Jordan and site of a city that flourished between the 2nd millennium bc and the 14th century ad. The site lies in a fertile, well-watered area in the tableland to the east of the River Jordan, on the biblical King’s Highway (the ancient Roman Via Nova Traiana), which ran from Bosra in the north to the Red Sea in the south.

The ancient city consisted of the citadel, or acropolis, built in three terraces rising from west to east on a steep-sided, L-shaped hill, and the lower town in the valley of the Wadi ‛Amman to the south. The earliest material found on the citadel dates to the 3rd millennium bc; from c. 1100 bc until 582 bc the city was the capital of the kingdom of Ammon. Excavations around the perimeter of the hill have uncovered Ammonite tombs and Hellenistic and early Roman occupation from the ...

Article

Anjar  

Hafez K. Chehab

[Andjar, ‛Anjar, ‛Ayn al-Jarr]

Late Antique and early Islamic settlement in the Beqa‛a Valley of Lebanon, 56 km east of Beirut. Excavations since 1953 have revealed a cardinally orientated rectangular enclosure (370×310 m) with dressed stone walls. Each side has regularly spaced half-round towers and a central gate. Two colonnaded avenues intersecting at right angles under a tetrapylon link the gates, a plan recalling that of Roman foundations in the Levant and in North Africa. Within the enclosure are the remains of two palaces and the foundations of three others in stone and hard mortar, as well as a mosque, two baths (one paved with mosaics) and a well. The western area has streets intersecting at right angles and housing units with private courts, and the eastern area has open fields beyond the palaces and mosque. The construction of the greater palace in alternating courses of stone and brick is a technique well known in Byzantine architecture. Reused architectural elements from the Roman and early Christian periods, some bearing Greek inscriptions, are found all over the site. A large quantity of archivolts and mouldings, carved with vegetal, geometrical and figural motifs, was found among the ruined palaces. Texts suggest that Anjar was founded in the time of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid (...

Article

Marcella Frangipane

[ Malatya]

Site in eastern Turkey, in the Malatya Plain on the right bank of the River Euphrates. It is a large artificial mound (h. c. 30 m) formed by the superposition of successive dwellings from about the 5th millennium bc to the Islamic period, c. 12th century ad. It was a strategic political and economic centre, especially in the Late Uruk period (c. 3300–c. 2900 bc), and was important in the cultural contexts of both Mesopotamia and Anatolia, ancient. Finds from the excavations are housed in the Malatya Museum and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara.

Excavations in the southern area of the mound have revealed a stratified succession of four monumental public buildings of mud-brick at a depth of c. 8 m; radiocarbon dating has suggested that these structures were built c. 3300–3000 bc. Most have thick walls and stone foundations, and contain several rooms. Many niches, plastered and painted white, or more rarely red, are set in the interior walls. Building I, the most recent, has a recognizable temple plan with a rectangular cella containing a central podium and a basin for sacrifices against the end wall; on one side are two communicating rooms for storage. The walls of the main room are richly decorated with concentric ovals stamped with a mould, comparable to an example from southern Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in Uruk itself....

Article

Aswan  

Edda Bresciani

[anc. Egyp. Abu, Swenet; Copt. Sawan; Gr. Syene]

Egyptian city at the northern end of the first Nile cataract, c. 900 km south of Cairo. The modern town chiefly stretches along the eastern bank of a sandstone valley, which also contains numerous islands formed by the granite outcrops of the cataract; its ancient monuments are found on both the east and west banks and on some of the islands.

In ancient times Aswan was a garrison town marking the traditional boundary between Egypt and Nubia; as such it served as the capital of the first nome (province) of Egypt and the seat of its governors. The town’s wealth was generated by its position on an important trade route between the Nile Valley and the African lands to the south and by its granite quarries, which provided the material for countless ancient monuments. The islands of the cataract enjoyed religious status as the mythological source of the annual Nile inundation, while the Temple of Isis at ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. 1905; d. Hamburg, 1951).

Iranian scholar of Persian art. After graduating from the Dar al-Moallemin in Tehran in 1931, he worked at the court of Riza Pahlavi (r. 1925–41) until 1934, when he was sent to study art and archaeology in Europe. There, he studied at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris and under Ernst Kühnel at the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum in Berlin. In 1937 he received his doctorate and returned to Tehran, where he specialized in the study of Islamic pottery at the Archaeological Museum and taught at the University. He was later appointed chief curator and then director of the museum. In 1948 he helped organize the Iranian exhibition at the Musée Cernuschi to coordinate with the XXI International Congress of Orientalists in Paris; in the following year, on the occasion of the Shah’s state visit to the USA, he brought an exhibition of Iranian art to New York (Met.) and Boston (Mus. F.A.)....

Article

A platform projecting from a wall, above ground level, enclosed by a railing or balustrade, supported on brackets or columns or cantilevered from the wall. Balconies merge interior and exterior spaces and they are naturally a common architectural feature of warmer countries, many of them Islamic. Wooden balconies projecting at upper levels and constructed with latticed screens to ensure privacy but allow air circulation were a feature of Islamic domestic architecture in many countries, and specific types developed in particular areas over time, such as the wooden screen known as mashrabiyya in Egypt and the shanashil in Iraq (see Housing and Vernacular architecture §II 7.). Balconies were also employed in mosques, such as the royal boxes (Turk. hünkâr mahfili) in Ottoman architecture (see Maqṣūra), or that in the Bara Gunbad complex at Delhi (1494). The jharokhā, a screened balcony above the entrance, was used for royal appearances in palaces (e.g. ...

Article

Balkh  

City in northern Afghanistan, believed to be the site of Bactra, capital of ancient Bactria, and a major city in the province of Khurasan during the Islamic period. Located on a fertile plain, Balkh commanded trade routes between India, China, Turkestan and Iran. It was already a wealthy city under the Achaemenid dynasty (538–331 bc) and a centre of Zoroastrianism. Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, it became important under the Bactrian monarchies (323–87 bc) and then under the Kushana and Hephthalites, and it was a Buddhist centre. The most substantial remains from the early periods are the mud ramparts, which stand more than 20 m at several places. The circular plan around the citadel (modern Bala-Hisar) may date back as far as the Achaemenid period. The only other monuments to survive from the pre-Islamic period are four Buddhist stupas. That excavated at Tepe Rustam in the south of the city is the most monumental found north of the Hindu Kush (platform 54 m on a side; cylindrical dome 47 m in diameter; total height ...

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Bam  

Abbas Daneshvari

Town in the province of Kirman, southern Iran, on an important route skirting the southern fringes of the Dasht-i Lut Desert. The old walled city was founded in the Sasanian period (ad 224–632) and flourished until the 18th century; its ruins stand 0.5 km east of the present town of Bam, founded in 1860. On 26 December 2003, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck the city, claiming more than 40,000 lives and destroying over 70% of the buildings. Most of the mud-brick remains of the old city date from the 16th century and later, but they give the best impression available of a medieval Iranian provincial town (see fig.; see also Islamic art, §II, 10(ii)). The site is roughly rectangular (300×425 m) with a citadel in the north-west corner. A vaulted bazaar runs from the main south gate to the foot of the citadel, where there is a large open square flanked by stables; to the west of the square is a caravanserai, a two-storey building with a central court. Within the citadel are the remains of the governor’s residence, his reception room and an open rectangle, which was used in the 19th century for the storage of artillery. A congregational mosque of the standard Iranian type, with four iwans facing a central courtyard, is towards the south-east corner of the site, and to its north are a dozen large mansions built for rich merchants. Their public and private quarters, arranged in two storeys around a central court, are decorated with recesses and mouldings; the service areas with stables and kitchens are plainer. In the north-west section of the site, behind the citadel, are smaller houses, perhaps built for peasants, with individual rooms on one or two sides of a courtyard....

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

Oleg Grabar

(b Geneva, March 16, 1863; d Geneva, March 13, 1921).

Epigrapher and historian of Islamic art and archaeology. Born to a well-to-do and intellectually active Genevan family of bankers (the scholar of linguistics Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913) was a cousin), van Berchem was educated as a philologist and historian in Geneva, Germany and France. He combined the intellectual traditions of France and Germany and belonged to a supranational brotherhood of wealthy scholars independent of political or other contingencies. In 1889 he travelled through Egypt, Palestine and Syria and became convinced that ‘a well-studied monument is of greater value than the best text’. He discovered that the inscriptions typical of Islamic urban architecture provided an extraordinary documentation on everything from the means of construction and date to symbolic and esoteric meanings. This discovery, honed by other trips, led to a series of articles on what van Berchem called ‘l’archéologie arabe’, still the most profound statements about the methods of explaining classical Islamic architecture in context. Van Berchem also persuaded the French Academy to sponsor the series ...

Article

Bosra  

K. Freyberger and Solange Ory

[Arab. Buṣrā; anc. Bostra]

Town in southern Syria, 110 km south-east of Damascus. Originally an Arab settlement, it came under Nabataean rule after 144 bc. After being annexed by the emperor Trajan in ad 106 it became the capital city of the Roman province of Arabia; most of its ancient remains date from this period. Bosra was an important Christian city in the Late Byzantine period; it was captured by the Muslim Arabs in ad 635.

Vestiges of the ancient city walls survive only in the north-west, the areas where pottery sherds from Middle Bronze II period (c. 2000–c. 1550 bc) constitute the oldest traces of settlement. Pottery also provides evidence of Nabataean habitation throughout the city; the eastern section may have been founded by the Nabataeans as there is no indication of an earlier phase of building there. The Roman decumanus (main road), which runs from east to west, is intersected by several north–south streets, mostly crossing it at an oblique angle and in a variety of alignments. It is lined by Roman buildings from the 2nd century ...

Article

Bukhara  

N. B. Nemtseva

[Bukhārā]

City in Uzbekistan.

The development of irrigation on the lower reaches of the Zarafshan River in the 1st millennium bc allowed the population of the region to expand, and the earliest settlement levels at the site of Bukhara are datable to the 5th–2nd century bc, when the citadel on a hill was separated by a ditch from a sprawling settlement on the east. The city came under the control of an indigenous Sogdian dynasty, the Bukhar-khudat, who in the 7th century ad restored and enlarged the citadel and constructed new walls around the residential quarters. At the beginning of the 8th century the two quarters were joined: the city proper was roughly square and covered some 30–55 ha. The two streets that crossed in the centre divided the town into quadrants, and the original four gates were increased to seven. Within were workshops, bazaars, shops, houses, palaces and houses of worship for a variety of sects, including Zoroastrians, Nestorian Christians, Buddhists, Manichaeans, ancestor and idol worshippers and those following the cult of Prince Siyavush. The Rud-i Zar Canal ran through the town. The citadel (3.5 ha) lay 120 m to the north-west of the city proper and contained the palace of the governors, a temple, armouries, a mint, a chancellery, a treasury and a prison. A street linked the eastern gate, which led to the city proper, with the western gate, which opened on to the market square known as the Registan. The suburbs contained the estates of the landowners with their fortified castles, at one time numbering 700. In front of these castles were gardens and service quarters....

Article

N. N. Negmatov

[Bunjikath]

Site near the town of Shakhristan (Shahristan) in northern Tajikistan. Capital of the medieval state of Ustrushana, which occupied the region between the Syr River and the Hisar Range from Samarkand to Khodzhent, Bundzhikat was described in 10th to 12th-century sources as a large and densely populated town in a beautiful location with plenty of water and gardens. The city proper was surrounded by a special wall with two gates, while the nearby citadel had its own fortifications and the suburb its own wall with four gates. All three parts of the city, as well as the country palaces, houses, gardens and vineyards, were surrounded by an enceinte. Among the largest buildings were the central mosque in the city, the prison in the citadel and the king’s palace in the suburb. The town got its water from the small Sarin River and six canals leading from it, along which there were over ten mills....

Article

Burana  

V. D. Goryacheva

[formerly Balasaghun; Balasagun; Kuz-Balyk; Kuz-Ordu

Medieval site 12 km south of Tokmak and 6 km from Ak-Beshim in the eastern part of the Chu Valley in northern Kyrgyzstan. Identified with Balasaghun, the capital of the Qarakhanid dynasty (reg 940–1211), Burana takes its name from the surviving minaret (10th–11th century) called Manār-i burāna by the 16th-century historian Mirza Muhammad-Haydar Dughlat. Archaeological investigation of the site, which was destroyed by earthquakes in the 14th and 15th centuries, has been conducted since 1927. The central group of ruins, identified by Masson as the city proper, covers an area 600×560–80 m and includes a palace complex, the minaret and various buildings dating from the 10th to the 14th century. This was the administrative and religious centre of medieval Balasaghun. The minaret (h. 24 m; rest. 1974) has a square base, octagonal socle and tapering cylindrical shaft articulated by bands of decoration. A door 5 m above ground level (indicating the height of the roof of the now-destroyed mosque) leads to an internal spiral stair. nearby were the tombs of the Qarakhanids (destr.), of which three have been excavated. One was an octagonal prism with a dome or conical cap; the two others were cylinders with monumental portals and either a dome or conical cap. They were decorated with bricks laid in patterns, terracotta and carved plaster. A ...

Article

Chach  

Yu. F. Buryakov

[Sogdian-Pers. Chach, Chachstan; Arab. Shāsh; Chin. Shi, Chzheshi]

Ancient state centred on the Tashkent Oasis on the north bank of the Syr River in Uzbekistan. From medieval times its chief city has been known increasingly as Tashkent. Although the small domain of Chach was assimilated by a semi-nomadic state in the first centuries bc, the name Chach is first attested in the Sasanian inscription at Naqsh-i Rustam (ad 262) near Persepolis and subsequently found at Dunhuang (4th century), Afrasiab (Old Samarkand; 7th century) and in Chinese and Arabic sources. From the 3rd to the 7th century Chach was a small but powerful kingdom of farmers and herders linked to the nomads of the steppe. Agriculture was made possible by an advanced irrigation system comprising more than 50 canals. Gold, silver, copper and turquoise were mined in the mountain and steppe regions, and 13 mountain communities dating from antiquity have been discovered as well as 30 from the medieval period. In the northern regions the economy developed along the great Silk Route....

Article

A. G. Gertsen

Medieval site 3 km south-east of Bakhchisaray in the Crimea, Ukraine. The site was probably founded in the 6th century ad. The Alan burial ground (6th–9th century) is located in the Mar’yam-dere gorge outside the site. The settlement was first mentioned at the end of the 13th century under the name Kirk-yer (‘Forty fortifications’). Set on the top of a sheer promontory, the site covers 38 ha, of which 16 ha were once occupied. It is divided into three parts: Burunchak, the western part of the plateau that remains unbuilt; the Old Town, which grew up in the second half of the 14th century beside the medieval Middle Wall that cut across the plateau at its narrowest point; and the New Town, which sprang up in front of the Middle Wall in the 15th century and was protected by another wall with three towers and a deep ditch in front. In ...

Article

Damghan  

Chahryar Adle

[Dāmghān]

Town on the road to Mashhad in northern Iran, 344 km east of Tehran. On the southern edge of the modern town are the ruins of the prehistoric site of Hissar, Tepe. Of the numerous Parthian and Sasanian sites near Damghan, the most important is Shahr-i Qumis, located 32 km to the south-west. In ad 857 Qumis was hit by a violent earthquake that destroyed the town’s system of underground irrigation channels (Pers. qanāt) and hastened its decline, to the advantage of Damghan, which received its water supply from the source of Chashma ‛Ali. The walls, bazaar and main streets of Damghan were determined before the mid-12th century. The earliest remaining Islamic monument is the Tarik-khana Mosque (9th century). Its elliptical arches and massive columns, resembling those of Sasanian palaces, show the adoption of pre-Islamic techniques for the construction of an Arab-type hypostyle mosque. The Imamzada Ja‛far complex includes one of the earliest funerary stelae in Iran; it commemorates the martyrdom (...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Lölling, July 27, 1878; d Vienna, July 8, 1961).

Austrian historian of Byzantine, Islamic and Indian art. He studied art history and archaeology at the universities of Vienna and Graz and in 1902 completed his doctorate at Graz under Josef Strzygowski and Wilhelm Gurlitt, a study of the paintings in a manuscript of Dioskurides’ De materia medica (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib., Cod. med. gr. 1) copied for the Byzantine princess Juliana Anicia before ad 512. After military service (1902–3), Diez pursued further research in Rome and Istanbul and worked in Vienna as a volunteer (1905–7) at the Österreichisches Museum für Kunst und Industrie. From 1908 to 1911 he worked in Berlin at the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum with Max Jacob Friedländer, Wilhelm Bode and Friedrich Sarre. He was then appointed lecturer at the University of Vienna. From 1912 to 1914 he made trips to Iran, India, Egypt and Anatolia, which led to articles on Islamic art and architecture and ...