Resources & Publications

  • Archive

    An Ocean of Paper Database of Omani waraqas

    An Ocean of Paper seeks to stimulate new research in the social history of the Sultanate by collecting, cataloging, and publishing the thousands of deeds (called waraqas) produced by Omanis in South Arabia and East Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These deeds, which exist in private and public collections in Oman and East Africa, recount transactions in money, property, and commodities between Omanis from different parts of the country who engaged in activities around the Indian Ocean. Individually, they tell stories of the lives, fortunes, and trajectories of Omani migrants; together, they constitute some of the richest written records we have on any community in the region, and promise to completely reshape the foundations of Omani social and economic history in the Indian Ocean.

  • Book

    Asa Eger, ed. The Archaeology of the Medieval Islamic Frontiers: From the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea [University of Colorado Press, Louisville: 2019]

    Table of Contents 1. A. Asa Eger (UNCG), “The Archaeology of Medieval Islamic Frontiers – an Introduction” 3

    Part I: Western Frontiers: The Maghrib and The Mediterranean Sea

    2. Anthony J.  Lauricella (U Chicago), “Ibadi Boundaries and Defense in the Jabal Nafusa (Libya)” 31

    3.  Renata Holod (U Penn) and Tarek Kahlaoui (Mediterranean School of Business), “Guarding a Well-Ordered Space on a Mediterranean Island”  47

    4. Ian Randall (Brown), “Conceptualizing the Islamic-Byzantine Maritime Frontier.” 80

    Part II: Southern Frontiers: Egypt and Nubia

    5. Giovanni Ruffini (Fairfield), “Monetization across the  Nubian Border: A Hypothetical Model”  105 

    6. Jana Eger (Mu, “ The Land of Tari' and Some New Thoughts about Its Location”  119

    Part III: Eastern Frontiers: The Caucasus

    7. Karim Alizadeh (Harvard): “Overlapping Social and Political Boundaries:  Borders of the Sasanian Empire and the Muslim Caliphate in the Caucasus” 139   

    8.  Tasha Vorderstrasse (U Chicago), “Buddhism on the Shores of the Black Sea:  The North Caucasus Frontier between the Muslims, Byzantines and Khazars ” 168.

    9. Kathryn Franklin, “Houses for Strangers and a Homeland on the Move: the Caravan- House and Political Economy in the Late Medieval Armenian Highlands (AD 1200- 1400)

  • Book

    Music, Sound, and Architecture in Islam, ed Michael Frishkopf and Federico Spinetti (University of Texas Press, March 2018).

    Edited by Federico Spinetti (U. Cologne) and Michael Frishkopf, with a foreword by Ali Asani (Harvard), this interdisciplinary collection comprises 14 chapters, representing multiple regions of the Muslim world, by scholars offering diverse perspectives on the multifaceted relations between sound and the built environment. The volume includes 16 full color plates, some 70 b&w figures, and an accompanying website (in progress) at, which will ultimately provide accompanying AV for every chapter. 

    ِContributors (in order) include Ali Asani, D. Fairchild Ruggles, Nina Ergin, John Morgan O’Connell, Irene Markoff, Michael Frishkopf, Jonathan H. Shannon, Samer Akkach, Cynthia Robinson, Glaire D. Anderson, Paul A. Silverstein, Kamil Khan Mumtaz, Saida Daukeyeva, Anthony Welch, and Federico Spinetti.

  • Book

    Margaret S. Graves, Arts of Allusion: Object, Ornament, and Architecture in Medieval Islam (Oxford University Press, 2018)

    • Offers first book-length investigation of the striking engagement between portable arts and architecture in the medieval Islamic world
    • Recognizes and argues for material objects and craftsmanship as a vital component of the intellectual culture of the medieval Islamic world
    • Features over 100 stunning color and black-and-white illustrations
    • Includes little-known and unpublished artworks from international collections
  • Website

    Dallas Museum of Art, The Keir Collection of Islamic Art online

    The Dallas Museum of Art has made the Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art available on its website ( For the first time, new digital, color photography of the majority of the objects in the collection is freely available for study and download. This project is the culmination of four years of admirable work behind the scenes at the DMA, for which the museum’s staff deserves much praise.  

    The collection is searchable both by the published Keir catalogue numbers and by the new loan numbers assigned by the DMA. In any new publications, please use the credit line “The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art, XXX” where XXX is the new loan number. If you wish, you can follow this with the published, catalogue number.  

    The Keir Collection online project is a work in progress—please bear with us as we continue to improve our online presence. The cataloguing is minimal and not yet updated—there are many gaps and there may be some errors. The digitisation of objects continues. Most of the manuscripts have been digitised and are being coded so that they can be viewed with the pages properly sequenced—these will be uploaded on a rolling basis as soon as they are ready. Finally, some objects are not yet present on the website.

  • Journal

    The Textile Museum Journal, Vol. 45

    Titled Draping the Middle Ages and guest edited by Patricia Blessing, assistant professor of Medieval and Islamic Art History at Pomona College, The Textile Museum Journal 45 focuses on the mobile nature of textile patterns in the East and West during the Middle Ages and investigates the question of cultural specificity in the use of textile imitations in a range of media. As coveted objects of trade and diplomatic gift exchange, textiles were widely distributed using the cross-cultural networks between Byzantium, the Islamic world, and East Asia. Within this broader world of medieval textile exchange, the notion of textile patterns that are adapted in architecture, ceramics, metalwork, and manuscripts stand at the center of the four articles in this volume: 

    • Draping, Wrapping, Hanging: Transposing Textile Materiality in the Middle Ages by Patricia Blessing, Pomona College
    • Painted Silks: Form and Production of Women’s Court Dress in the Mongol Empire by Eiren L. Shea; Grinnell College
    • Gems in Cloth and StoneMedium, Materiality, and the Late Antique Jeweled Aesthetic by Elizabeth Dospěl Williams, Dumbarton Oaks Museum
    • Put a Bird on it: What an Aviary Preoccupation Reveals about Medieval Silks by Meredyth Lynn Winter, Harvard University
  • Book

    Alessandra Bagnera, The Ghaznavid Mosque and the Islamic Settlement at Mt. Raja Gira, Udegram

    The archaeological excavations carried out on the northern slopes of Mount Rāja Gīrā near Udegram, in the Swat valley, represent one of the most recent projects of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan before the forced interruption of the activities in 2007. Under the direction of the late Umberto Scerrato, five campaigns were carried out between 1985 and 1996 by the research team working on the Archaeology and History of Islamic Art. 

    The result of the work was the identification of a very interesting pluri-stratified context featuring an Islamic occupation dating from the 11th to the 13th-14th centuries and almost overlapping two main pre-Islamic phases, the later one dated to the 8th-10th centuries and the earlier one dating from the 1st/2nd-4th centuries. A Ghaznavid congregational mosque was unearthed, to which some housing facilities and a small cemetery of Muslim rite were also linked.            

    A strong local tradition links the Muslim conquest of this region to the numerous expeditions made by Maḥmūd of Ghazna to the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent, an event that has been hitherto considered as not recorded in the historical and literary sources. Although the matter can be reconsidered in the light of some new elements (see Chapters IV and V), the site unearthed on the slopes of Mt. Rāja Gīrā positively proves the existence of a true early Muslim occupation of this area. The major feature of this is the Ghaznavid congregational mosque, the earliest one dated in North Pakistan, and the third in the whole nation after those of Banbhore (8th century) and Mansura (9th century) in Sind. Many other data gathered from the excavations add precious information about the Ghaznavid occupation of the area, the Islamization processes that followed the conquest and the possible role played by Udegram in the political and administrative re-organization of the region. At the same time, the subsequent phases identified at the site document with new archaeological evidence some events so far recorded only by the sources. This is the case, for example, of the Khwarizm Shahs’ presence in the region during the first decades of the 13th century.   

    Series: ACT-Field School Project Reports and Memoirs, V - Excavations and Conservation Activities in Swat District (2011-2013) Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa - Pakistan. 4
    Lahore, Sang-e-Meel Publications, 2015
    174 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 28 cm
    ISBN-10: 969-35-2880-8
    ISBN-13: 978-969-35-2880-0

  • Book

    Alessandra Bagnera and Annliese Nef (dir.), Les bains de Cefalà (Xe-XIXe siècle) : pratiques thermales d’origine islamique dans la Sicile médiévale

    The exceptional spa complex of Cefalà, built on a thermal spring and located 30 km South of Palermo, finds the first systematic and multidisciplinary study in this book. 

    The archaeological data collected during the excavations carried out in the years 1990 and 2000 and the new investigations, conducted since 2003 under the aegis of the Ecole française de Rome in collaboration with the Superintendency of Palermo, have allowed to specify the chronology of the baths and to clarify, for the first time, relations with the site in which they are located. Exploited from the tenth century in the context of Fatimid Sicily, the latter saw the construction of an articulate spa complex under the Kalbiti emirs (948-1040 approximately). Monumentalized by Roger II of Altavilla in the mid-twelfth century, the baths were then inserted from the fourteenth century in the context of a warehouse (fondacus); subject to significant changes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they have been frequented up to the twentieth century. The various transformations, including the gradual cancellation of the original Islamic context, reflect the changes in Sicilian society during the Middle Ages and the Modern Era, when the baths were rediscovered by scholars. The book summarizes the current knowledge on this testimony of the Islamic origins of a part of the thermal, but also architectural and more widely cultural, heritage of Sicily and sheds new light on the medieval history of the territory related to Palermo.

    Collection de l'École française de Rome 538

    Roma: École française de Rome, 2018

    ISBN: 978-2-7283-1250-4

  • Book

    Earthen Architecture in Muslim Cultures Historical and Anthropological Perspectives, ed. Stéphane Pradines

    Earthen Architecture in Muslim Cultures
    Historical and Anthropological Perspectives
    Stéphane Pradines, Editor
    Series: Arts and Archaeology of the Islamic World, Volume: 10
    This edited volume follows the panel “Earth in Islamic Architecture” organised for the World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES) in Ankara, on the 19th of August 2014. Earthen architecture is well-known among archaeologists and anthropologists whose work extends from Central Asia to Spain, including Africa. However, little collective attention has been paid to earthen architecture within Muslim cultures. This book endeavours to share knowledge and methods of different disciplines such as history, anthropology, archaeology and architecture. Its objective is to establish a link between historical and archaeological studies given that Muslim cultures cannot be dissociated from social history.

    Contributors: Marinella Arena; Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya; Christian Darles; François-Xavier Fauvelle; Elizabeth Golden; Moritz Kinzel; Rolando Melo da Rosa; Atri Hatef Naiemi; Bertrand Poissonnier; Stéphane Pradines; Paola Raffa and Paul D. Wordsworth.

    Publication Date:  
    11 September 2018

  • Book

    Elizabeth A. Lambourn, Abraham's Luggage. A Social Life of Things in the Medieval Indian Ocean World

    From a single merchant's list of baggage begins a history that explores the dynamic world of medieval Indian Ocean exchanges. This fresh and innovative perspective on Jewish merchant activity shows how this list was a component of broader trade connections that developed between the Islamic Mediterranean and South Asia in the Middle Ages. Drawing on a close reading of this unique twelfth-century document, found in the Cairo Genizah and written in India by North African merchant Abraham Ben Yiju, Lambourn focuses on the domestic material culture and foods that structured the daily life of such India traders, on land and at sea. This is an exploration of the motivations and difficulties of maintaining homes away from home, and the compromises that inevitably ensued. Abraham's Luggagedemonstrates the potential for writing challenging new histories in the accidental survival of apparently ordinary ephemera.

    Table of Contents
    1. Introduction. A list of luggage from the Indian Ocean world
    2. From Ifriqiya to Malibarat – introducing Abraham Ben Yiju
    Part I. A Mediterranean Society in Malibarat:
    3. Making homes and friends: on shopping and suhba
    4. Making a meal of it: on food cultures
    5. A Jewish home: on ritual foods
    Part II. A Mediterranean Society at Sea:
    6. The 'simple' bare necessities: on water and rice
    7. 'Things for the cabin': inhabiting the ocean
    8. The balanced body: on vinegar and other sour foods
    9. From Malibarat to Misr and beyond – afterlives
    Appendix: Abraham's list of luggage.

    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018

    ISBN 9781107173880

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