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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

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

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

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

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

Katrin Kogman-Appel

Hebrew Bible (Jerusalem, National.. Library of Israel., MS. Heb 4°790, and a single page in Toledo, El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum), copied c. 1260, perhaps in Toledo by Menachem ben Abraham ibn Malikh for Isaac bar Abraham Hadad, both members of known and documented Toledan families. At some later stage further decorations were added, apparently in Burgos. The Damascus Keter is an outstanding exemplar out of approximately 120 decorated Bibles from Iberia and belongs to a group of three very similar codices from the middle of the 13th century, produced in Toledo. It thus represents a rich tradition of Jewish art flourishing between the 13th and the 15th centuries. These Bibles were used either by scholars for private study, or for biblical readings during synagogue services.

Typical of numerous Bibles from the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula, the decoration consists of numerous carpet pages executed in Micrography and enriched by painted embellishments. This is a technique typically used in Hebrew decorated books and harks back to Middle Eastern manuscripts of the 10th century. Apart from the carpet pages, the Damascus ...

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 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

Hama  

Rupert L. Chapman

[Ḥamā, Ḥamāh; bibl. Hamath; anc. Gr. Epiphania]

City on the River Orontes in inland western Syria. The tell has been occupied almost continuously since Neolithic times.

Hama’s location on the Aleppo–Damascus road ensured its prosperity for long periods (see also Syria-Palestine, §I, 1). Its position also exposed it to influence and domination by a wide variety of cultures. In the 9th century bc Hama was ruled by a Neo-Hittite dynasty, which was replaced c. 800 bc by an Aramaean one (see Aramaean). The city was destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 bc and its population deported, as mentioned in the Bible (2 Kings 17:24); occupation on the tell was limited to an Assyrian garrison. Hama was included in the Roman Empire after the conquest of Syria by Pompey in 64 bc. In 1812 J. L. Burckhardt visited Hama and discovered what later proved to be hieroglyphic Hittite inscriptions (see Hittite). The tell, which dominates the modern town, was excavated in ...

Article

Harran  

Seton Lloyd

[anc. Carrhae]

Ancient city on the Anatolian plateau in Turkey, c. 30 km south of Urfa, where a trade route from the Euphrates crosses the modern Turco-Syrian frontier. The site was visited and described from the mid-19th century by such travellers as R. C. Chesney, C. Preusser, Gertrude Bell, K. A. C. Creswell and T. E. Lawrence. From 1950 onwards it was surveyed and excavated by S. Lloyd, W. Brice and D. S. Rice. The main mound, in the centre of the site, rises 20 m above the level of the plain, undoubtedly covering the ruins of an Assyrian temple to the moon-god Sin.

Harran was probably already a centre for the cult of the moon-god in the 2nd millennium bc. After the fall of Nineveh (c. 612 bc) the last Assyrian king, Assur-uballit II (reg 612–609 bc), transferred the remains of his court briefly to Harran. Three stelae bearing cuneiform inscriptions of the Babylonian king ...

Article

Iwan  

Lionel Bier

[aiwan, eyvan, ivan, liwan; Pers. ayvān, Arab. īwān]

Vaulted hall with walls on three sides and completely open on the fourth. In classical Persian and Arabic texts the term usually refers to a palace building or some formal part of a palace, such as a platform, balcony or portico; only among modern archaeologists and art historians is the word applied solely to this type of vaulted hall. The basic form of the iwan can be traced back to Mesopotamia and Iran during the time of the Parthians (see Parthian) and Sasanians (c. 250 bcad 651), but its full architectural potential was realized by Islamic builders from Egypt to India, who made it a distinctive feature of their secular and religious monuments.

The origin and early development of the iwan are the subject of debate, and no convincing solution to these problems will be possible until more archaeological data is available from Iran and Central Asia, where the iwan became such an important architectural feature. Some large halls at ...

Article

Maskana  

J.-C. Margueron

[Mesken; Meskene; Miskina]

Small town in north Syria on the south bank of the River Euphrates near an ancient site known in antiquity as Emar, in Byzantine times as Barbalissos and in Islamic times as Balis. It lay on an ancient trade route between the Mediterranean, Anatolia and Mesopotamia. The site was excavated in 1929 and again between 1971 and 1976 during salvage operations accompanying the building of the Tabqa Dam. The minaret was dismantled and rebuilt on higher ground, but the ancient site and Maskana itself have been flooded by Lake Assad. Finds are in the National Museum, Aleppo, and the Musée du Louvre, Paris; objects looted from the site are in numerous private collections.

J.-C. Margueron

This Bronze Age city flourished during the 3rd and 2nd millennia bc as a staging-post on a major trade route, where not only goods but also ideas and influences were exchanged. The city is mentioned in the Ebla texts of the second half of the 3rd millennium ...

Article

Nubia  

William Y. Adams, R. G. Morkot, Timothy Kendall, L. Török and Khalid J. Deemer

Region in the Nile Valley, immediately to the south of Egypt, in which several cultures flourished, from the Khartoum Mesolithic period (c. 10,000–c. 5000 bc) to the establishment of the Islamic Funj sultanate c. ad 1505. Ancient Nubia corresponds essentially to the ‘Aethiopia’ of Herodotus and other Classical writers and the ‘Kush’ of the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews. It extends approximately from Aswan in southern Egypt to Khartoum in Sudan (see fig. 1 and fig. 2). The most northerly part, Lower Nubia, has always been regarded as an Egyptian sphere of influence, and it is included within the borders of the modern Arab Republic of Egypt. Egyptian control of the larger, southerly region, ‘Upper Nubia’, was much more sporadic.

Article

Sheila R. Canby

( Kyrle )

(b London, Oct 13, 1897; d Sharon, CT, April 18, 1986).

American archaeologist, curator and collector . Trained as an artist at the Slade School, University College, London, in 1920 he joined the graphic section of the Egyptian Expedition to Thebes, organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. During the 1920s and 1930s Wilkinson painted facsimiles of Egyptian tomb paintings in the museum collection, and he joined museum excavations in the Kharga Oasis (Egypt) and Qasr-i Abu Nasr and Nishapur (Iran). Transferred to the curatorial staff of the museum in 1947, he became curator in 1956 of the new Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, which merged with the Department of Islamic Art in 1957. Through his energetic collaboration on major excavations at Hasanlu, Nimrud and Nippur, Wilkinson greatly expanded the Ancient Near Eastern collections at the Metropolitan Museum. After his retirement from the museum in 1963, he taught Islamic art at Columbia University and was Hagop Kevorkian Curator of Middle Eastern Art and Archaeology at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (...