OCTOBER 16, 2008

Theme: “Out of Late Antiquity”

> Download Speaker Bios & Abstracts (pdf)

Rainey Auditorium, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
9:009:15 am Welcome

9:1510:15 am
Keynote speaker: Alan Walmsley, University of Copenhagen:

Archaeology, Materiality, and Meaning in Things: Formative Processes in the First Islamic Centuries

10:1510:30 am Coffee Break

10:30 am – 12:15 pm (20 minutes per paper; 15 minutes for discussion)
Session 1.1

Session Leader: Alastair Northedge, Université de Paris
Session Topic: “The relationship of Archaeology and Art at the Beginning of Islam”
Session Description: Much of the new data on the material culture of Islam in its early period comes from archaeological sources, and is much wider than the narrow traditional canon established by K. A. C. Creswell. One consequence is a greater awareness of non-Muslim peoples, when the Muslim population was still small, but also the need to identify Muslim populations outside the great architecture. Another consequence is the much wider range of activities that can be detected and which bear on Art and Architecture, such as construction for sporting, military or even industrial purposes. A third is the greater contextualization of significant developments, such as the origins of Islamic ceramics. At the same time, an effort needs to be made to understand the different momentums of archaeology and art history, their different directions.


• Yumna Masarwa, Paris: Early Islamic Military Architecture: The Umayyad Ribats of Palestine

Eva Hoffman, Tufts University: The Samarra Dancers: Evidence for the Definition of an Abbasid Style

Ian Straughn, Brown University: Common Ground: Landscape Emplacement and
the Art and Archaeology of Early Islamic Bilād al-Shām

Mattia Guidetti, Venice
: The Early Islam in Front of the Byzantine Churches

12:15 – 1:30 pm • •Lunch Break

1:30 – 3:15 pm (20 minutes per paper; 15 minutes for discussion)
Session 1.2

Session Leader: Jonathan M. Bloom, Boston College/ Virginia Commonwealth University
Session Topic:
“Fatimid art.”
Session Description: The art and architecture of the Fatimid period in North Africa and Egypt (909-1171) comprises a diverse corpus of material in media ranging from urban planning and monumental architecture to carved ivory and rock-crystal. Combined with an extraordinarily rich array of textual sources relating to the arts of the court and urban life, the material culture of this period gives an unusually complete picture of medieval Islamic art from the period before the Mongol invasions. To what extent is this a dynastic art? To what extent is it a regional one? How does it change over the two and a half centuries of Fatimid rule? To what extent can one use the arts of the Fatimid period to generalize about other times and places?


Alison Gascoigne, University of Southampton: Archaeology of the Fatimid Period

Nicholas Warner, Independent Scholar, Cairo: Fatimid Cairo: a Reappraisal of
Form and Content

Mina Moraitou, Benaki Museum, Athens: Fatimid Woodwork

• Vivian Mann, Jewish Museum, New York: Fatimid Manuscripts in Hebrew and Arabic

3:153:30 pm Coffee Break

3:30 – 5:15 pm (20 minutes per paper; 15 minutes for discussion)
Session 1.3

Session Leader: Heather Ecker, Detroit Institute of Art
Session Topic: “Messianism, Kingship and Sacred Cities in the Islamic World”
Session Description: The extraordinary number of cities in the Islamic World that are (or have been) considered sacred inspire this session. Cities sacred to Muslims are found in the Middle East, in North Africa, in the Indian Sub-continent, and arguably, in Europe. These cities attract pilgrims and prestige as the sites of ancient enclosures, as the sites of burial places of saints, as sites of learning, and as sites of caliphal authority. This session will enquire how such cities have supported, and in turn, been transformed by rulers who engaged with messianic ideas and propaganda as a form of legitimation. Such messianic ideas include mahdism (the expectation of an extraordinary figure in the world who will promote an age of justice, of righteousness, of equality and of peace), and imamism (the expectation in the reappearance of the occluded imam as the rightful temporal and spiritual leader of the umma). Messianic rulers have cast themselves as saviours of the people and protectors of the faith, claiming publicly corporal and spiritual lineages that lend them both political rights and spiritual stature. Messianic ideas stretch and compress time in various ways, paralleling the demolitions and constructions that messianic rulers have overseen in various cities, giving form to their mystique and sources of legitimation.


Sussan Babaie, Visiting Scholar at the Getty Research Institute: Friday Prayer and Millenarian Promises on the Shores of the Caspian Sea

Rochelle Kessler, Independent Scholar: Fathepur Sikri: Piety and Politics Along the Agra-Ajmer Road

Christiane J. Gruber, Indiana University, Bloomington: Return, Retribution, and Reward: Messianism as Municipal Matter in Post-Revolutionary Iran

Rare Book and Manuscript Room, 6th floor of Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania
5:30 – 6:30 pm

Workshop I: On Qur’ans and Codicology, François Déroche, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
(one hour)