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Department of the History of Art and Archaeology

Introduction to the Art and Archaeology of the Near and Middle East

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 2

This introductory course describes the formation and development of Islamic art and architecture from the 7th C. CE down to modern times. It covers Islam’s Arabian and Near Eastern background and the monuments and decorative traditions of the Umayyads in greater Syria and Spain, the ‘Abbasids in al-‘Iraq, the Fatimids in Egypt, the Saljûqs in Iran and Anatolia, the Safavids in Iran, Ottoman architecture and Iznik pottery.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

  • A broad familiarity with the historical background of the architecture, arts and archaeology of the Islamic lands from 1st C. CE to the present.
  • Understanding of the political, religious and social contexts that generated this rich cultural heritage.
  • Knowledge of the approaches and methods of art historians, archaeologists and connoisseurs who have interpreted the history of the formation and development of Islamic art and architecture.
  • Knowledge of the textual and material resources available for future research and the current trends in scholarly research in the study of the material culture of the Islamic Near and Middle East.

Method of assessment

2 Essays of 1,500 words each worth 30%. Written Exam will count for 70% towards the final mark.

Suggested reading

  • Bloom, J. and Blair, S., 1994, The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250-1700, London (1995).
  • Carswell, John, Iznik Pottery, London (1998).
  • Contadini, A, Fatimid Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (1998).
  • Creswell, K.A.C., ed. James Allan, A Short Account of Early Muslim Architecture, Aldershot (1989).
  • Ettinghausen, R. and Grabar, O., The Art and Architecture of Islam: 650-1250 London (1987).
  • Hillenbrand, R., Islamic Art and Architecture, London (1999).
  • Necipoglu, Gulru, The Age of Sinan, London (2005).
  • Roxburgh, David J., (ed.), Turks, A Journey of a Thousand Years 600-1600 (exhibition catalogue) London (2005).
  • Canby S., The Golden Age of Persian Art, London (1999).
  • Stanley T., (ed.) The Palace and the Mosque, London (2004).