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Article

Judith McKenzie, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, and Wladyslaw B. Kubiak

revised by Gordon Campbell, 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

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

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

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

S. J. Vernoit

[Edhem, Osman Hamdi; Hamdi Bey]

(b Istanbul, Dec 30, 1842; d Eskihisar, Gebze, nr Istanbul, Feb 24, 1910).

Turkish painter, museum director and archaeologist. In 1857 he was sent to Paris, where he stayed for 11 years, training as a painter under Gustave Boulanger and Jean-Léon Gérôme. On returning to Turkey he served in various official positions, including two years in Baghdad as chargé d’affaires, while at the same time continuing to paint. In 1873 he worked on a catalogue of costumes of the Ottoman empire, with photographic illustrations, for the Weltausstellung in Vienna. In 1881 he was appointed director of the Archaeological Museum at the Çinili Köşk, Topkapı Palace, in Istanbul. He persuaded Sultan Abdülhamid II (reg 1876–1909) to issue an order against the traffic in antiquities, which was put into effect in 1883, and he began to direct excavations within the Ottoman empire. As a result he brought together Classical and Islamic objects for the museum in Istanbul, including the Sarcophagus of Alexander, unearthed in Sidon 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

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

(b Kayseri, Turkey, 1872; d 1962).

Archaeologist, collector and dealer of Armenian descent. He excavated in Iran at Sultanabad from 1903 and the medieval city of Rayy from c. 1907 and assembled an outstanding collection of Oriental art, especially Islamic and Persian. He exhibited Islamic ceramics in London in 1911 and works excavated under his supervision were shown in New York in 1914. Major sales of Islamic pieces from his collection, including lacquer doors and tile panels from Isfahan, books and paintings, carpets and ceramics, were held in the 1920s at the Anderson Gallery, New York. In 1929 he acquired at auction the Mughal album of calligraphy and painting that became known as the Kevorkian Album (now divided New York, Met., 55.121.10; Washington, DC, Freer; see also Indian sub-continent, §V, 4(i)(d)). His gifts to museums and universities included Assyrian reliefs to the Brooklyn Museum, New York. His desire to promote American interest in Middle Eastern art and archaeology was continued through the Hagop Kevorkian Fund....

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

Kufa  

[al-Kūfa; Kufah]

Site on the Euphrates in south-east Iraq. Founded in ad 638 by the general Sa‛d ibn Abi Wakkas a year after the Muslims captured the Sasanian capital at Ktesiphon, Kufa developed in the 7th century from a military encampment into a major city, with a strong intellectual and religious life. In 655 it became the first city to support the claims of the Prophet’s son-in-law ‛Ali against the third caliph ‛Uthman (reg 644–56), and it served as ‛Ali’s capital until his death in 661. In the following years Kufa and its sister city of Basra were the principal centres of early Islamic civilization. From the outset, Kufa was planned with a central public area containing a mosque and the governor’s palace (Arab. dār al-imāra). From this central area radiated avenues that separated tribal lots. The original mosque was square with many gateways, had a covered colonnade on the south side and used spolia from nearby churches. Under the governorship of Ziyad Ibn Abihi (670–3), fired bricks were introduced and were used to rebuild the mosque and the governor’s palace, which adjoined it to the south. The palace seems to have been both an administrative and residential building, with an interior court and an iwan-like basilical hall leading to a domed room on the south....

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 ...