1-15 of 15 results  for:

  • Islamic Art x
Clear all


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....


N. N. Negmatov


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....


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....



[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....


[Arab. Jurjāniyya; Pers. Gurganj; Urgench]

Site in Turkmenistan on one of the channels of the lower Amu River (Oxus), 150 km south of the Aral Sea. Kunya-Urgench was the main capital of Khwarazm, a prosperous agricultural region in antiquity and the Middle Ages. The city was conquered by the Arabs in 712 and ruled by governors, who later adopted the traditional title of Khwarazmshah (King of Khwarazm). Under the Ma’munid line (reg 995–1017) the city was one of the leading literary centres of the eastern Islamic world. Its prosperity attracted the attention of its neighbours, and it was annexed by Ghaznavid and Saljuq family rulers in the 11th and 12th centuries. The last line of Saljuq governors became almost independent. In the late 12th century and early 13th, while nominally the vassals of the Qara Khitay (Chin. Qidan), or Western Liao, from north China, the Khwarazmshahs assembled an ephemeral empire in western Central Asia and the Persian-speaking world. Kunya-Urgench was the first victim of the Mongol warlord Genghis Khan, who sacked and destroyed it in ...


David Whitehouse

[Lashkar-i Bazār]

Site on the Helmand River in southern Afghanistan near the modern town of Lashkargah. In medieval times it was known as al-‛Askar and served as the winter retreat of the rulers of the Ghaznavid dynasty (reg 977–1186). It was a royal suburb of Bust, a site overlooking the confluence of the Helmand and Arghandab rivers. Bust has a massive tepe (a mound resulting from continuous settlement on the same site in areas where mud-brick is the common building material) which is thought to contain the remains of an Achaemenid settlement. Bust was captured by the Arabs c. ad 661 and in the 10th century was a large and wealthy town, according to the geographer Ibn Hawqal. In addition to the tepe, the principal monuments of Bust are an ingeniously designed galleried well, which is seven storeys deep and was driven through the mound, and a ceremonial arch attributed to the Ghurid dynasty (...


Antonio Fernández-Puertas

[Madīnat al-Zahrā’; Medinat al-Zahra; now Medina Azzahra]

Site in southern Spain, 6 km west of Córdoba, founded as a palace–city in 936 by the Umayyad caliph ‛Abd al-Rahman III (reg 912–61). His son, the future al-Hakam II (reg 961–76), supervised the work of the architects Maslama ibn ‛Abdallah and others. Sacked and destroyed by the Berbers in 1010, the site was repeatedly quarried for building materials. Excavations begun in 1911 have revealed the richness and variety of Umayyad secular architecture and its decoration (see Islamic art, §II, 5(iv)(a)) and confirm the glowing and unusually precise accounts of the city by chroniclers.

The site is a rectangle set east–west on the lower slopes of the Sierra Morena. Water was brought from mountain springs by a tunnelled and surface canal with stepped descents to the northern city wall. The site was enclosed in a rampart formed of two walls separated by a narrow corridor, except near the city gate (...



K. M. Baipakov

Site and region on the right bank of the Syr River 10 km west of Timur, Kazakhstan. Otrar has been identified with the region of Farab (Barab, Parab) mentioned by medieval Arabic and Persian historians and geographers. The area was controlled by the Samanids (reg 819–1005) and Qarakhanids (reg 992–1211) under whom Keder, the principal settlement, had a congregational mosque. Otrar, the first large fortress the Mongols encountered during their invasions, was destroyed; rebuilt in the mid-13th century, it became one of the largest centres on the Syr River under the Chaghatayids (reg 1227–1370). It was then incoporated into the Timurid realm, and Timur (reg 1370–1405) died there. From the mid-15th century it was contested by the Uzbeks and the Kazakhs until the end of the 16th century, when it became a major political and economic centre of the Kazakh khanate. It was abandoned in the mid-18th century....


Lucien Golvin

[Kal‛at Banī Ḥammā; Kalaa des Bani Hammed La Kalaa]

Site in central Algeria, 25 km north-east of M’Sila. It was the capital of the Hammadid branch of the Zirid dynasty. In 1007 Hammad ibn Buluggin founded a qal‛a (Arab.: ‘fortress‘) in the Maadid Mountains; its strong ramparts (950×500 m) protected it several times against the attacks of the Zirids of Ifriqiyya (Tunisia). The site was rapidly populated by the forced transfer of neighbouring inhabitants, who built the Manar Palace, several mosques, caravanserais and other public buildings. The Qal‛a reached its apogee during the reigns of al-Nasir (reg 1062–88) and al-Mansur (reg 1088–1105), thanks to the influx of refugees from Kairouan fleeing the invasions of Hilalian nomads. The city had four palaces, of which the largest (Qasr al-Bahr) had a vast central pool. One of the few extant remains is the elaborately decorated minaret (h. 20 m) of the congregational mosque. The wealth of the city is attested by the range of glazed ceramics found there. Menaced in its turn by the advancing nomads, the town was abandoned by al-Mansur, who took refuge in Bejaïa (Bougie, now Annaba, N. Algeria). After the Hammadids were overthrown by the Almohads (...



Jeffrey A. Hughes


Site of a 17th-century palace in Bharatpur District, Rajasthan, India. The village of Rupbas is situated at the end of a long range of red sandstone hills in the Chambal Valley, which had strategic military and commercial importance for the Mughal family rulers. The area was one of numerous hunting locations visited by the emperors during their annual tours and was frequently visited by Jahangir (reg 1605–27). However, contemporary historical sources suggest that no permanent palace existed prior to 1635. One of the priorities of Shah Jahan (reg 1628–58) on his accession was to remodel several existing structures, culminating in a vast building programme, one facet of which was the creation of the palace at Rupbas.

The palace façade overlooks a tank and is aligned almost exactly to the north-east, probably in consideration of the position of the sun in the final weeks of winter (the period of the most intense hunting activity). The red sandstone façade (w. about 180 m) has seven octagonal towers (Pers. ...



Thilo Ulbert

[al-Ruṣāfa; Assyrian Rasappa; Bibl. Rezeph; Gr. Rhesafa; Lat. Risafa, Rosafa; Byz. Sergiopolis; Arab. Ruṣāfat Hišham; Resafa]

Site of an ancient city in northern Syria c. 200 km east of Aleppo and 30 km south of the River Euphrates, with both Byzantine and Islamic remains. Although it was known from earlier travellers’ reports, full descriptions of the monuments were not published until the early 20th century. Excavations were undertaken by the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut from 1952, directed first by Kollwitz and from 1976 by Ulbert.

Although the city is attested in both Assyrian and biblical sources (2 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 37:12), the earliest known architectural information is from the 3rd century ad, when Diocletian (reg 283–305) established it as a frontier fortress. Around ad 300 a high-ranking officer in the eastern Roman army, Sergius, was executed there. The martyr’s remains were originally buried outside the walls and became the focus of a cult. From the late 5th century onwards Rusafa was one of the most important pilgrimage centres in the eastern Mediterranean and was already an episcopal see. By the late ...



Jutta Jain-Neubauer

Site about 8 km west of Ahmadabad, India. The extensive complex was begun by the second ruler of the Gujarat Sultanate, Muhammad Shah (reg ad 1442–51), who constructed a mausoleum and mosque in honour of his adviser, the famous saint Sheykh Ahmad Khattu (d 1446). Completed by Muhammad Shah’s successor Qutb al-Din Shah (reg c. 1452–8), this sacred place became a retreat for the sultans of Gujarat. Mahmud Bigara (reg c. 1458–c. 1511), the most famous and powerful of them, added a large tank surrounded by broad steps and separate palaces for himself and his female household; later, he erected a mausoleum opposite that of the saint, in which he, his son Muzaffar II and his queen Rajbai were buried. Both mausolea were built in the Gujarati Sultanate style that flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries and comprise pillared halls with central tombs enclosed by perforated stone screens carved with a variety of geometric and floral motifs. In ...



Margaret Graves

Site of a settlement in the Sahara in the early Islamic period, near the modern-day Algerian city of Ouargla. Sedrata was briefly the capital of the Khariji sect in North Africa until it was destroyed in the 11th century.

In the 7th century, the Kharijites, a highly conservative opposition party that rejected both the succession of ‛Ali b. Abu Talib as well as that of his rivals, fled from persecution to the Maghrib. The Rustamid dynasty of Kharijites established their capital at Tahart (now in western Algeria), but fled from there to Sedrata in 909 when the Fatimids invaded. The Kharijites remained at Sedrata until it was destroyed in 1077; leaving Sedrata they took refuge in the oasis towns of the Mzab Valley in Central Algeria, where the Kharijite tradition has survived to the present day. The austere architectural tradition of these towns is rather hard to reconcile with the sophisticated and intricate stucco decoration found at Sedrata....


R. Nath


Site 8 km from Agra in Uttar Pradesh, India. It was apparently first developed in the reign of Sultan Sikandar Lodi (reg 1489–1527), after whom it was named. Although a number of ruined structures from the Lodi period are reputed to survive in the area, the site is known principally for the tomb of the Mughal emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605). Akbar apparently selected Sikandra as the site for a garden, which was named Bihistabad (Pers.: ‘Abode of Paradise’), and it was here that he was buried. Construction of his tomb may have been in progress when he died; it was completed between 1612 and 1614 by his son, the emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27). The contribution of each has been debated: the form of the building seems characteristic of Akbar’s reign, while some of the decoration is typical of Jahangir.

The main tomb or mausoleum, square in plan, is built in five receding storeys. The unusual design is reminiscent of the so-called Panch Mahal at ...


M. Kramarovsky

[Solkhat-Krym; Solghat; Eski Krym]

Site in the Crimea 85 km east of Symferopol’. Lying at the foot of Mt Agarmysh, which marks the north-east end of the second Crimean Ridge, the town was the administrative centre of the Mongols in the Crimean peninsula (Taurica). It reached its apogee in the late 13th century and first half of the 14th and until the 16th century controlled the steppe route from the east coast of the Crimea into the heart of the continent. Its convenient geographical position, combined with its function as a regional capital that minted its own coinage from the 1260s to the 1420s, made the town part of the extensive trade carried on by the Golden Horde with southern Europe, the Levant, Anatolia, Central Asia, Iran and the Delhi sultanate.

The total area of Staryy Krym within the defensive enceinte measured 220 ha. The multinational population lived in colonies organized along confessional lines. Thus, the Christian colony, embracing Orthodox, Catholic and Georgian communities, comprised Alans, Polovtsians, Russians, Armenians and Latins. In the 14th century there were one Franciscan and several Georgian monasteries. The Jewish colony comprised Rabbinists and Karaites, but the tone of town life was set by the Muslim community. To build the Friday Mosque (destr.) in ...