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Abarquh  

[Abarqūh]

Iranian town in northern Fars province. A prosperous centre in medieval times, by the 10th century it was fortified with a citadel and had a congregational mosque. The octagonal tower of mortared stone known as the Gunbad-i ‛Ali was erected, according to its inscription, by a Daylamite prince in 1056–7 to contain the remains of his parents. The Masjid-i Birun, a mosque to the south of the town, may be slightly earlier, although it has many later additions. The congregational mosque (rest.), with four iwans around a rectangular court, dates mostly to the 14th century, although the base of the dome chamber probably belongs to the 12th-century mosque. The many mihrabs within the mosque include a particularly fine stucco example (1338). There are also several mud-brick tombs in the town. These square structures have plain exteriors and plastered and painted interiors. One of the earliest is the tomb of Pir Hamza Sabzpush (12th century); the finest was that of Hasan ibn Kay Khusraw (...

Article

Peter Grossmann

[Abū Mīnā]

Site of a Christian city and pilgrimage centre in the Maryūt Desert, c. 45 km south-west of Alexandria, Egypt. It grew up around the shrine of St Menas, who was martyred during the persecution of the Christians instigated by Diocletian (reg 285–305). The ancient name of the site is not known, and the position of the saint’s grave had been long forgotten until, according to legend, several miracle cures led to its rediscovery. The place then quickly developed into an increasingly major centre of pilgrimage where, among other things, the so-called Menas ampules were manufactured as pilgrim flasks and achieved particular renown. The first excavations of the site were undertaken by Kaufmann in 1905–7. Further excavations have been directed successively by the Coptic Museum in Cairo (1951), Schläger (1963 and 1964), Wolfgang Müller-Wiener (1965–7) and Peter Grossmann (since 1969).

The earliest archaeological remains date to the late 4th century, although the grave itself was in an older hypogeum. The first martyrium basilica erected over the grave dates to the first half of the 5th century and was rapidly enlarged by various reconstructions and extensions. Around the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries, the Great Basilica was added to the east in the form of a transept-basilica, making it the largest church in Egypt (...

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

Algiers  

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[Arab. al-Jizā’ir; ‘the islands’]

Capital and largest city in Algeria, located on the west side of a bay opening onto the Mediterranean Sea. The site was already settled in Phoenician times, as shown by a hoard of Punic coins found near the port in 1940. The ruins of the Roman settlement known as Icosium are said to have existed until the 10th century when the Zirid family ruler Buluggin (reg 972–84) founded the Muslim town. Medieval geographers called it jazā’ir banī mazghannā, the islands of the Bani Mazghanna, after a local tribe of Sanhaja Berbers who lived in the region. At the end of the 12th century Almoravid rulers erected a mosque there (see Islamic art, §II, 5(iv)(c)), which preserves a fine wooden minbar and a minaret added in the 14th century. In the 15th century many refugees fleeing the Christian conquest of Spain settled in the city and established themselves as corsairs. Incorporated into the Ottoman empire, it became an important naval base, often enjoying relative independence from Istanbul under the Barbary pirates who made piracy the major industry. The city was repeatedly bombarded by European powers, until the French captured it in ...

Article

Almaty  

A. V. Ivanov

[formerly Alma-Ata; Verny]

Former capital of Kazakhstan. Situated at the foot of the northern Zailiyskoye Alatau mountain range, the modern settlement was established in 1854 as a Russian fortification, initially called Zailiyskoye but soon renamed Verny, on the site of medieval Almata. Archaeological finds in the locality bear witness to the assimilation of various cultures in this region from the middle of the 1st millennium ad. Its statute was granted in 1867, and it became the capital of the Semirechensky region. The city suffered greatly during earthquakes in 1887 and 1910 and also endured several landslides. In 1921 it was renamed Alma-Ata (now Almaty). In 1929 it became the capital of the Kazakh SSR and developed rapidly, especially with the construction of the Turkestan–Siberian railway. Most of its streets were reconstructed and the city was replanned as a network of avenues and boulevards. Prominent architects of the USSR participated in the construction of major buildings. A second stage of intensive construction took place after World War II. The outstanding cathedral (...

Article

Ian M. E. Shaw

Ancient Egyptian art style that takes its name from Amarna, (Tell) el-, the site of the capital city during the reigns of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc) and Smenkhkare (reg c. 1335–c. 1332 bc). Amarna-style painting and sculpture were characterized by a move away from the traditional idealism of Egyptian art towards a greater realism and artistic freedom. This new sense of vigour and naturalism is most apparent in surviving fragments of paintings from the walls and floors of palaces (Cairo, Egyp. Mus., and Oxford, Ashmolean; see Egypt, ancient §X 2.). The statuary and reliefs, mainly from el-Amarna, Thebes and Hermopolis Magna, represent the royal family and their subjects in a style that was initially grotesque and often crude, as the artists struggled to come to terms with the new approach (see Egypt, ancient §IX 3., (viii)). However, they eventually reached a high degree of sophistication and beauty, exemplified by the painted limestone bust of Queen ...

Article

Amasya  

Lale H. Uluç

[anc. Amaseia]

Turkish town in northern Anatolia. Situated in a ravine on both banks of the Yeşilırmak (Iris) River, it served as capital of the kingdom of Pontus during Hellenistic times, and the rock-cut tombs of the Pontic kings are set below the citadel. An important Roman metropolis and a Byzantine bishopric and army base, it fell to the Saljuq family dynasty of Anatolia in 1075. Notable buildings from the medieval period include the Burmalı Minare (‘spiral minaret’) Mosque (1237–46; derelict); the Gök Madrasa (1266–7) and adjacent tomb (1278), built by the governor Sayf al-Din Turumtay; a hospital (1309); and several other tombs. In the early 14th century the city passed to the Uighur chief Eretna. In 1386 it was conquered by the Ottomans, for whom it served until the end of the 17th century as a princely residence and provincial centre, known for its educational institutions. Buildings from the early Ottoman period include the Sufi convent (Turk. ...

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

Amol  

Gordon Campbell

Article

Ankara  

Lale H. Uluç and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Gr. and Lat. Ancyra; Mod. Gr. Angora]

Capital city of the Turkish Republic since 1923. Ankara lies near the northern edge of the central Anatolian steppe at the confluence of three small rivers, spreading down the slopes of a mountain on which stands the ancient citadel. It has been a centre of trade and administration since antiquity.

In 25 bc, then a large and prosperous Phrygian city on the Royal Road from Sardis to Persepolis, Ancyra was made the capital of the Roman province of Galatia. It was embellished with buildings, of which the white marble Temple of Roma and Augustus is the most important to survive. Inscribed on its walls is the Monumentum Ancyranum, the most famous of all antique inscriptions. Written in Greek (on the exterior) and Latin (on the interior), the text is an account by the emperor Augustus (reg 27 bcad 14) of his public life and works. Other Classical remains include the Bilkis Minaresi (a column of the emperor Julian (or Jovian)) and the foundations of a large Roman bath on the road to Çankırı....

Article

M. Rautmann, Katherine M. D. Dunbabin and Mine Kadiroğlu

[now Antakya]

Greek and Roman city on the River Orontes in south-east Turkey (ancient Syria), which flourished from c. 300 bc to the 7th century ad.

Its advantageous site on the edge of the Amuk Plain at the foot of Mt Silpius, commanding important trade routes linking Anatolia with Palestine and the Mediterranean with inland Syria, attracted the attention of Seleukos I (reg 305–281 bc), who founded the city (c. 300 bc) as the capital of his Syrian empire. With its port at Seleucia and residential suburb at Daphne, Antioch prospered as capital of the Roman province of Syria from 64 bc. The city enjoyed the attentions of Roman benefactors from Julius Caesar onwards and attained the height of its prosperity during the 2nd to the 7th century ad, becoming the diocesan capital of Oriens. Its influence was particularly strong in early Christian affairs: Paul and Barnabas were active at Antioch, while Peter was regarded as its first bishop. ...

Article

Stephen Mitchell

[‘Pisidian’]

Greek and Roman city in western Asia Minor (now Turkey) on a plateau above Yalvaĉ. It was founded by the Seleucids in the 3rd century bc and refounded as a colony for veteran soldiers by Augustus c.25 bc; it flourished until the Early Christian period. The site was excavated in 1924 by D. M. Robinson and was the object of a detailed archaeological survey by S. Mitchell and M. Waelkens in 1982–3. Further excavations have taken place during the 1980s and 1990s, directed by M. Taslianan. About 4 km south of the city Hellenistic remains survive at the sanctuary of Mên Askaênos, where an imposing temenos with porticos on four sides enclosed a mid-2nd-century bc Ionic temple (6 by 11 columns) on a high, stepped podium. The design of the temple was influenced by the layout of the temples of Zeus Sosipolis and Artemis Leukophryene at Magnesia on the Maeander...

Article

Apameia  

Jean Ch. Balty and Janine Balty

[Lat. Apamea; Arab. Afāmiya, Fāmiya; now Qal‛at al-Muḍīq]

Hellenistic and Roman city in northern Syria, on a plateau on the south-west tip of Jebel Zawiye overlooking the valley of the Asi (formerly the Orontes). It was founded in 300–299 bc by Seleukos I Nikator (reg 301–281 bc) on the site of an ancient Bronze Age capital; it was one of the four great cities known as the Tetrapolis. The disastrous earthquake of 15 December ad 115 carried away most of the original buildings, but in many places there remain powerful courses, solidly anchored on rock, of the Hellenistic walls, eloquent testimony to their 7 km circuit of the city. The Apameia that the excavations of a Belgian archaeological expedition brought to light from 1928 onwards is essentially a Roman city, capital of the province of Syria Secunda from c. ad 415. Apameia contributed greatly to the cultural life of the empire and a famous school of Neo-Platonic philosophy existed there from the 2nd to the 4th century ...

Article

Seton Lloyd

[Arab. ‛Aqarqūf; anc. Dur Kurigalzu]

. Site in Iraq of the ancient capital city of the Kassites, which flourished c. 1400–1157 bc (see also Mesopotamia, §I, 2). The ruins of ancient Dur Kurigalzu are 15 km west of modern Baghdad, at the point where an outcrop of soft limestone marks the northern extremity of the alluvial plain. The eroded core of its Ziggurat (now partly rest.) is visible from the highway leading west to Ramūdī and the desert crossing to Jordan. The mud-brick fabric of its structure is reinforced with deep layers of reed-matting and faced on all sides with kiln-baked brick.

Iraqi excavations at Aqar Quf in 1942–5 under Taha Baqir led to the discovery of a complex of temple buildings at the foot of the ziggurat itself. A Kassite dynasty ruled Babylonia from the 16th century to the 12th century bc, apparently maintaining the ancient civic and religious traditions of Mesopotamia. The architecture of this temple precinct was therefore characteristic of the period (...

Article

Ardabil  

Abbas Daneshvari

[Ardabīl; Ardebil]

City in Azerbaijan in north-west Iran c. 180 km east of Tabriz, situated on the eastern slopes of Mt Sabalan, an extinct volcano, and with a population of c. 222,000. Founded in the pre-Islamic period, it flourished after the Arab conquest in the 7th century, often serving as the capital of Azerbaijan. It was sacked by the Mongols in 1220 and was subsequently overshadowed by Tabriz, but its partial recovery was marked by the erection of a new congregational mosque in the early 14th century. Now ruined, this consisted of a rectangular hypostyle prayer-hall with a square domed ‘sanctuary’ in front of the mihrab.

Ardabil became one of Iran’s holiest cities under the Safavid family dynasty (reg 1501–1732), which was descended from a local mystic, Shaykh Safi al-Din Ishaq (d 1334). Through the patronage of the Safavid shahs, his tomb and the associated hospice (khānaqāh) became an important shrine. The main buildings are clustered around a rectangular paved courtyard. On the north side is the Jannatsaray (...

Article

Abbas Daneshvari

[Ardistāni; Ardestān]

Iranian town in the province of Isfahan, just east of the road from Natanz to Na’in. It occupies an ancient site and preserves the ruins of a Sasanian fire-temple, but the most important monuments date from the medieval period, when Ardistan was a flourishing agricultural centre, renowned for its silk. By the 10th century the town was fortified and had five gates. Its congregational mosque, which now has a four-iwan plan, was first built during this period; a tunnel-vaulted arcade in the south-west corner with a fragmentary kufic inscription and polylobed piers can be attributed to the 10th century, when similar work was done on the Friday Mosque at Isfahan (see Islamic art, §ii, 5(i)(a)). In 1158–60 the mosque was remodelled on the orders of Abu Tahir Husayn ibn Ghali ibn Ahmad by the master Mahmud ibn al-Isfahani known as al-Ghazi (see Islamic art, §ii, 5(i)(b)). The domed bay in front of the mihrab and the adjacent qibla iwan date from this rebuilding and are notable for their original decoration, which includes three stucco mihrabs, brickwork highlighted in red and white and plaster decoration in purple, yellow, white and blue. In ...

Article

Armant  

M. S. Drower

[anc. Gr. Hermonthis; Copt. Ermont]

City in Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile, some 10 km south of Luxor. It was at first called Iunu-Shema (Egyp.: ‘the southern Heliopolis’) and Iunu-Montu (Egyp.: ‘Heliopolis of the war-god Montu’), from which subsequent names derive. It was the capital of the fourth nome (administrative province) of Upper Egypt throughout the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–c. 2150 bc), until the rise of the city of Thebes. Armant was the original home of the Mentuhotpe family, the founders of the 11th Dynasty. Preliminary excavations in the town area (1935–7) uncovered stone relief blocks of many periods; a few delicate reliefs of the 11th Dynasty show Sankhkare Mentuhotpe III in the company of Montu and his consorts the goddesses Iuniyt and Teneniyt. Some lower courses of a New Kingdom temple were uncovered, including the base of an 18th Dynasty Pylon bearing a depiction of a lively procession of Nubian captives headed by a rhinoceros. A granite stele, found near by, records various exploits, such as the capture of a rhinoceros by Tuthmosis III....

Article

Lucy Der Manuelian and Armen Zarian

Town on the banks of the K‘asagh River, 20 km north-west of Erevan, Armenia. It is the site of several churches (5th–19th centuries) and a cemetery with khatchk‘ars (see Armenia, Republic of §IV 1.; Cross, §II, 4) of the 12th to the 14th century.

The earliest church is the three-aisled basilica of Tsiranavor, which was built in the 5th century and partially reconstructed in the 6th, probably by Catholicos Nerses II (reg 538–57), a native of Bagravand. It subsequently underwent numerous alterations and was finally left a ruin in 1815. Restoration work in 1963 revealed that the exterior walls, the apse area, the north pier bases and the south aisle and nave arcade have survived. Traces of the beginnings of the main vault can be seen at the west end.

The walls are of tufa ashlars, facing a rubble core. The plan was defined by three pairs of T-shaped piers, a characteristic of 5th-century Armenian architecture (...

Article

Assos  

Bonna D. Wescoat

[now Behramkale]

City on the Aegean coast of Turkey, rising from the sea to the summit of the coastal ridge opposite the island of Lesbos. Ancient testimony and archaeological evidence indicate that Assos was founded in the 7th century bc by colonists from Methymna on Lesbos, and its strategic location and protected harbour assured its importance from the 6th century bc to the 4th century ad; Aristotle lived there from 348 to 345 bc. The site was first excavated by Americans in 1881–3; work resumed in 1981 under Turkish direction. Finds, including reliefs from the temple, are now in Paris (Louvre), Boston, MA (Mus. F.A.), Istanbul (Archaeol. Mus.), Çanakkale (Archaeol. Mus.) and at the site.

The plan of Assos followed the steep contours of the area; the buildings were constructed of local volcanic andesite. The Archaic temple on the summit (see fig. (a)), probably dedicated to Athena Polias and built in the second half of the ...

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 ...