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Çigdem Kafesçioglu

[anc. Prusa; Fr. Brousse]

City in north-west Turkey. Located on the northern foothills of Mysian Olympus (Mt Ulu Dağ), the ancient city of Prusa was a spa town of note and the capital of Bithynia. The city prospered under Roman and Byzantine rule and changed hands frequently between Christians and Muslims in the 11th and 12th centuries. In 1326 it was taken by the Ottoman sultan Orhan (reg c. 1324–60) and served as the capital of the Ottoman empire until 1402. The several important buildings preserved from the early Ottoman period exemplify the Ottoman pattern of urbanization whereby sultans successively built architectural complexes (see Külliye) in unurbanized parts of the city, which then became the nuclei of new quarters. The city was also an international centre for the silk and textile trade.

Orhan began his complex of mosque, kitchen, bath and caravanserai in 1339–40, near the Byzantine citadel in the area that later became the commercial centre of the city. The mosque (rest.) is an early example of the Bursa- or ...


Byron, Robert  

(b London, Feb 26, 1905; d off Stornaway, Feb 24, 1941).

British writer and traveller. His travels in Greece in 1925–7 resulted in two books, The Station and The Byzantine Achievement, in which he presented readers brought up on the culture of Classical antiquity with a novel view of the importance of the civilization of Byzantium and the seminal influence of its art on the later development of European painting. In The Birth of Western Painting he developed this line of thought with a reassessment of El Greco as the ‘last and greatest flower of Byzantine genius’. His best-known book is The Road to Oxiana, a record of travels through Persia and Afghanistan in 1933–4 in search of the origins of Islamic architecture and culture. He contributed a conspectus of Timurid architecture and photographs taken on his journeys to the Survey of Persian Art. Although his views were often coloured by personal enthusiasm and prejudices (for example his hatred of the historical writings of Edward Gibbon) a surprising number of his insights into Byzantine and Islamic culture have been confirmed by later scholarship, and he played a major role in bringing these cultures to the attention of educated readers. He was also a founder-member of the ...


Diez, Ernst  

S. J. Vernoit

(b Lölling, July 27, 1878; d Vienna, July 8, 1961).

Austrian historian of Byzantine, Islamic and Indian art. He studied art history and archaeology at the universities of Vienna and Graz and in 1902 completed his doctorate at Graz under Josef Strzygowski and Wilhelm Gurlitt, a study of the paintings in a manuscript of Dioskurides’ De materia medica (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib., Cod. med. gr. 1) copied for the Byzantine princess Juliana Anicia before ad 512. After military service (1902–3), Diez pursued further research in Rome and Istanbul and worked in Vienna as a volunteer (1905–7) at the Österreichisches Museum für Kunst und Industrie. From 1908 to 1911 he worked in Berlin at the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum with Max Jacob Friedländer, Wilhelm Bode and Friedrich Sarre. He was then appointed lecturer at the University of Vienna. From 1912 to 1914 he made trips to Iran, India, Egypt and Anatolia, which led to articles on Islamic art and architecture and ...



Rahmi Hüseyin Ünal

Small town in central Anatolia (Turkey), c. 100 km south-east of Sivas. Founded in the mid-9th century ad and known as Tephrikè to the Byzantines, the town was taken by the Saljuqs of Rum after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. In the 12th century it came into the possession of the Mangujak (Mengüček) Turkomans, under whom several remarkable buildings and fortifications were erected. The Kale (‘citadel’) Mosque, constructed for the Mangujak sovereign Shahinshah ibn Sulayman ibn Amir Ishak by the builder Hasan ibn Piruz of Maragha in 1180–81, is a simple structure of three aisles perpendicular to the qibla wall. The wider central aisle has a barrel vault, while the side aisles are each covered by four cupolas. A small kiosk once stood against the north-west corner of the building, but only its lower part remains. The masonry portal was once decorated with glazed brick. The sovereign’s mausoleum (?...



Lale Babaoğlu

City in eastern Turkey. Located on the main route between Iran and Turkey, it has been an important military and commercial centre since antiquity. Possession of the city passed between the Byzantines, who knew it as Theodosiopolis, and the Arabs, who called it Arz(an) al-rum (‘Arz(an) of the Byzantines’) after a nearby commercial centre. In 1080 it became the capital of the Saltuqid principality and in 1201 a provincial seat under the Saljuqs of Rum (reg 1077–1307). In the mid-13th century it came under the control of the Ilkhanids (reg 1256–1353) and subsequently it became part of the principality under Eretna (see Beylik). The city was captured c. 1520 by the Ottomans, for whom it held great commercial and strategic importance. The monuments from these centuries exemplify most of the major types of Anatolian architecture and are remarkable for their construction and decoration in finely cut stone (...


Gray, Basil  

(b July 21, 1904; d July 10, 1989).

British museum curator and art historian. After taking a degree at Oxford, he spent a season in Istanbul with David Talbot-Rice at the British Academy excavations of the Great Palace of the Byzantine emperors. In 1928 he joined the staff of the Department of Printed Books at the British Museum; in 1930 he moved to the subdepartment of Oriental Prints and Drawings, then headed by Laurence Binyon, who encouraged his enthusiasm for the arts of Asia. Gray’s involvement in the great 1931 Exhibition of Persian Art at the Royal Academy led to the publication with Binyon and J. V. S. Wilkinson of the monumental Persian Miniature Painting, and his relations with Binyon were strengthened by his marriage to Binyon’s daughter Nicolète in 1933. He took charge of the Department of Oriental Antiquities in 1938 on the retirement of R. L. Hobson and was named Keeper in 1946, an office that he held until his retirement in ...



Mark Whittow and Çiğdem Kafesçioğlu

[formerly Nicaea; Nikaia]

Turkish town in the eastern bay of Lake Iznik (anc. Ascania), with important Byzantine and early Ottoman remains. The earliest settlements on the site date to the 1st millennium bc. In 316 bc Antigonos Monophthalmos, a general of Alexander the Great, expanded the existing town and called it Antigonia. It was conquered by Lysimachos in 301 bc and renamed Nicaea after his wife. In 281 bc it came under the rulers of Bithynia, gaining importance before falling to Roman domination in 72 bc. In the 3rd and 4th centuries ad it thrived as the site of an imperial treasury and a major military base on the strategic road linking the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire to Italy and the Rhine frontier. Byzantine rule lasted until 1081 when the city was captured by Sulayman and a group of Seljuk Turks and established as capital of the first Turkish state in Asia Minor. In ...



[al-Qayrawān; Qairouan]

City in Tunisia. It was founded in ad 670 by ‛Uqba ibn Nafi‛, the Arab conqueror of North Africa, on the site of a ruined Roman or Byzantine town; the site, slightly elevated above the great interior plain, afforded protection from surprise attacks and floods. In the 9th century Kairouan was the capital of the semi-independent Aghlabid dynasty (reg 800–909) and the most important city between the Nile and the Atlantic. Under the Fatimids (reg 909–72) the capital was shifted first to Mahdia on the coast and then in 947–8 back to the suburb of Sabra–al-Mansuriyya.

In 1054–5 the city was sacked by the Hilali tribe of Bedouin and the town reduced to ruins. Its decline was further exacerbated by the growing importance of Tunis in Mediterranean maritime trade. Under the relative peace established by the Hafsids, the city recovered somewhat, and many hospices (Arab. zāwiya) were built to accommodate the growing number of local Sufi saints (marabouts). The ...



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 ...



Saeed Al-Dewachi


City in northern Iraq. Located on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient city of Nineveh, Mosul is surrounded by fertile plains. It replaced Nineveh under Byzantine rule and was conquered in ad 637 by Muslim Arabs, who used it as a base from which to conquer Azerbaijan and Armenia and as an important entrepôt for overland trade between Iran and Syria. It served as the capital of the Hamdanid (reg 905–91) and ‛Uqaylid (reg 992–1096) dynasties, and, after a brief interregnum, became the capital of the Zangids (reg 1127–1222). ‛Imad al-Din Zangi (reg 1127–46) restored the fortifications and expanded the city. Under Nur al-Din Zangi (reg 1146–74) several important buildings were erected (see Islamic art, §II, 5(ii)(e)), but most have been extensively rebuilt. The most important was the congregational mosque (1170–72), of which the only medieval parts to remain are the brick minaret, some columns and the mihrab (...



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 ...



Rahmi Hüseyin Ünal

City in central Anatolia (Turkey). Following the defeat of the Byzantines by the Saljuqs of Rum at Manzikert in 1071, the Byzantine city of Sebastea became the capital of a Danishmend Turkoman principality in northern Cappadocia and Pontus. Now known as Sivas, it was absorbed by the Saljuqs in the 12th century and by the Ilkhanids of Iran in the 13th. Sivas was the capital of the Uighur chief Eretna from 1326 to 1352; at the end of the 14th century it was taken by the Ottomans. Several buildings surviving from the pre-Ottoman period are distinguished by an inventive combination of decorated stone and brick (see Islamic art, §II, 5(iii)).

The Ulu Cami (1197), or congregational mosque, is a hypostyle stone structure, with an open court and ten rows of rectangular piers supporting arcades perpendicular to the qibla wall on which the flat timber and earthen roof rest. The brick minaret (?...


Tripoli (ii)  

Margaret Graves


Capital city and principal seaport on the North African coast of Libya. Founded in the 7th century bce by the Phoenicians, the site was occupied successively by the Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals and Byzantines before being conquered by the Arabs in the 7th century. After many centuries of complex governance passing between various dynasties, Tripoli became almost independent for much of the 15th century. Taken briefly by the Spanish in the 16th century, the city was then occupied by the Ottomans in 1551. In 1771 the Ottoman governor of Tripoli established his own dynasty, the Qaramanli dynasty, which lasted until the Ottomans re-occupied the area in 1835. Following the oil boom of 1995, Tripoli has grown dramatically: it is the largest city in Libya, with a population of around 1.7 million. It is sometimes known in Arabic as Ṭarābulus al-gharb (Western Tripoli) to distinguish it from the city of the same name in present day Lebanon that is known as ...



Monique Riccardi-Cubitt

French term used to describe artefacts made in Turkey, or in France by Turkish craftsmen, and by derivation the influence on French design of elements from the Byzantine Empire, the Saljuq Islamic period and the Ottoman Empire. Specific motifs, borrowed from the original Turkish carpets, included arabesques or stylized flowers and vegetal scrolls and decorative animal forms—also included within the generic term ‘grotesques’—from the Renaissance onwards. From the Middle Ages inventories and accounts record objects façon de Turquie imported from the East through the Crusades or the Silk route. In the accounts (1316) of Geoffroi de Fleuri, treasurer to King Philippe V of France, ‘11 cloths of Turkey’ were noted, and in 1471 the inventory of the château of Angers records a wooden spoon and a cushion ‘à la façon de Turquie’. In the 16th century Turkish textiles were highly prized, and Turkish craftsmen were employed in Paris to embroider cloth for ladies’ dresses: in ...