The Manar al-Athar photo-archive, based at the University of Oxford, provides high resolution, searchable images for teaching, research, publication and heritage work. These images of archaeological sites, buildings and artworks, cover the areas of the former Roman Empire which later came under Islamic rule (such as Syro-Palestine/the Levant, Egypt and North Africa), and adjoining regions, such as Armenia and Georgia. The chronological range is from Alexander the Great (i.e from about 300 BC) through the Islamic period.
The photo-archive is open-access so that it can be freely used by anyone anywhere in the world. Photographs can be freely downloaded as original high-resolution images (tif images) without watermarks, making them immediately available in a format suitable for publication or research, simply by acknowledging the source. Material is labelled in both English and Arabic to facilitate regional use, with the main instructions also available in some other languages.
The Manar al-Athar photo-archive currently has c. 70 000 images online, but is in continuous development. Current strengths include Late Antiquity (AD 250–750), the period of transition from paganism to Christianity and, in turn, to Islam, especially religious buildings (temples, churches, synagogues, mosques) and monumental art (including floor mosaics), early Islamic art (paintings, mosaics, relief sculpture), as well as Roman and early Islamic (Umayyad) architecture, and iconoclasm
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.
Kamil Chadirji (1897-1968), born to an influential Baghdad family, played a central role in the political life of lraq as founder and President of the National Democratic Party. His position allowed him unique opportunities to take photographs throughout Iraq. Kamil’s son, Rifat Chadirji (b. 1926), perhaps better known as one of the most influential Iraqi architects of the 20th century, was also an accomplished photographer, author, teacher, and critic (through the generosity of Rifat and Balkis Chadirji, AKDC@MITalso houses the Rifat Chadirji Architecture Archive). Together, their vast collection spans more than 5 decades and contains ca. 100,000 negatives and images documenting the Middle East, primarily Iraq.
The collection illustrates daily life, cultural engagement, and social conditions in the Middle East from the 1920s – 1970s. This important record also provides a unique look at the significant transformation of Baghdad’s built environment over time.
Once on loan to the Arab Image Foundation (Beirut, Lebanon), the entire collection has been given to the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT through a gift from the Chadirji family. In 2016, while on loan to the Arab Image Foundation and with a grant from the Graham Foundation, the photography of Rifat Chadirji, in particular, was highlighted in an exhibition entitled, Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation. Although the material now belongs to AKDC@MIT, the exhibition remains on tour and will open in Los Angeles, CA early January 2018, before returning to MIT.
As with all archives given to AKDC@MIT, the collection will be catalogued, digitized, and made available to scholars, students, and research via AKDC’s research portal, Archnet, or in person at the Center. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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