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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

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

Hafez K. Chehab

[Crac de Montréal; Montréal; Mons Regalus; Shaubak; Shawbak]

Castle in Jordan, south of Amman. Built in 1115 by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem (reg 1100–18) to menace the pilgrimage road to Mecca, the castle of Monreal surrendered to the Ayyubid ruler Salah al-Din (Saladin) in 1189. It was given to his brother al-Malik al-Adil (reg 1196–1218), whose son al-Mu‛azzam (reg 1218–27) enlarged and restored the fortress in 1226. Under the Mamluks (reg 1250–1517) it was known as Shawbak and became the centre of a district of the province of Kerak. Remains include several round towers and a deep well with a stairway said to lead to a spring, as well as two fragmentary churches with pointed vaults. Most of the fortress was rebuilt by the Ayyubids and Mamluks, but by 1340 the site was described as abandoned.

E. Brünnow and A. von Domaszewski: Die Provincia Arabia, 1 (Strasbourg, 1904), pp. 113–19P. Deschamps: ‘Les Deux Cracs des croisés’, ...

Article

Alan Borg

[Arab. Ḥisṇ al-Akrād]

Crusader castle in Syria. It is generally considered to be the finest of all crusader castles, but this reputation is to some extent an accident of scholarship, for it remains the only such castle to have been thoroughly investigated and restored. This work was done by a French team, led by Paul Deschamps. Krak represents the ultimate development of crusader fortification, however, and the earlier phases are better studied at the equally impressive sites of Saone (Sahyun) and Margat (al-Marqab) in Syria and Kerak (al-Karak) in Jordan. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.

The stone castle of Krak occupies a dominant hilltop, near two Roman roads and overlooking a fertile valley (see fig.). The site was apparently occupied by a fortress as early as the 13th century bc. It was mentioned in Arab texts in ad 1031, when a settlement of Kurds was established, with a small castle. These fell to a crusading force in ...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....