Resources & Publications

  • Book

    Journey to the City A Companion to the Middle East Galleries at the Penn Museum, eds. Steve Tinney and Karen Sonik

    The Penn Museum has a long and storied history of research and archaeological exploration in the ancient Middle East. This book highlights this rich depth of knowledge while also serving as a companion volume to the Museum's signature Middle East Galleries opening in April 2018. This edited volume includes chapters and integrated short, focused pieces from Museum curators and staff actively involved in the detailed planning of the new galleries. In addition to highlighting the most remarkable and interesting objects in the Museum's extraordinary Middle East collections, this volume illuminates the primary themes within these galleries (make, settle, connect, organize, and believe) and provides a larger context within which to understand them.

    The ancient Middle East is home to the first urban settlements in human history, dating to the fourth millennium BCE; therefore, tracing this move toward city life figures prominently in the book. The topic of urbanization, how it came about and how these early steps still impact our daily lives, is explored from regional and localized perspectives, bringing us from Mesopotamia (Ur, Uruk, and Nippur) to Islamic and Persianate cites (Rayy and Isfahan) and, finally, connecting back to life in modern Philadelphia. Through examination of topics such as landscape, resources, trade, religious belief and burial practices, daily life, and nomads, this very important human journey is investigated both broadly and with specific case studies.

  • Book

    The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World (ed. Christiane Gruber)

    The Image Debate is a collection of thirteen essays that examine the controversy surrounding the use of images in Islamic and other religious cultures and seek to redress some of the misunderstandings that have arisen.  
    Table of Contents: Stefano Carboni – Foreword Christiane Gruber – Idols and Figural Images in Islam: A Brief Dive into a Perennial Debate  
    Part 1: Pre-Modern Islam Mika Natif –  ‘Painters Will Be Punished’: The Politics of Figural Representation Amongst the Umayyads Finbarr Barry Flood – Signs of Silence: Epigraphic Erasure and the Image of the Word Oya Pancaroğlu – Conditions of Love and Conventions of Representation in the Illustrated Manuscript of Varqa and Gulshah  
    Part 2: Beyond the Islamic world Alicia Walker – Iconomachy in Byzantium Steven Fine – The Image in Jewish Art Michael Shenkar – Religious Imagery and Image-Making in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia Robert Decaroli – Conspicuous Absences: The Avoidance and Use of Images in Early South Asian Art  
    Part 3: Modern and Contemporary Islam Yousuf Saeed – The Figural Image in Islamic Devotional Art of the Indian Subcontinent James Bennett – The Shadow Puppet: A South-East Asian Islamic Aesthetic Allen F. Roberts and Mary Nooter Roberts – Enigma and Purpose: Visual Hagiographies of Urban Senegal Rose Issa – Figures of Protest in Contemporary Arab and Iranian Art Shiva Balaghi – Only for My Shadow: Figuration in Contemporary Iranian Art
  • 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
  • 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

  • Book

    Humphrey Davies and Lesley Lababidi, A Field Guide to the Street Names of Central Cairo

    American University in Cairo Press, 2018 


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