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|Title: ||Early Islamic architecture in Iran (637-1059)|
|Authors: ||Anisi, Alireza|
|Supervisor(s): ||Hillenbrand, Robert|
|Issue Date: ||2008|
|Publisher: ||The University of Edinburgh|
|Abstract: ||This thesis discusses the architecture of early Islamic Iran (16-450/637-1059). To better
understand the architectural history of this period, it is necessary to specify in detail how
it took shape and to describe its features.
Hitherto, no fully comprehensive study has been carried out on this subject. Most of the
earlier attempts in that direction are the products of Western scholars. Few of these can
be regarded as fully comprehensive - however worthy they were in their own time - in the
light of the huge amounts of information now available. This mass of new material, a
good deal of it unearthed in the decades since the Islamic Revolution, at last makes it
possible to outline in detail the architectural characteristics of this early period.
The proposed study will build on the work done by earlier scholars in the field, both
western and Iranian, among which two lengthy studies are of particular value.
Mehrdad Shokoohy in his unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Studies in the early mediaeval
architecture of Iran and Afghanistan (Edinburgh, 1978), describes twelve buildings in
Iran and Afghanistan which he dates to the early mediaeval period. This research - some
of which has been published in article form1- introduces some monuments that are little
known, but there is still ample room for more detailed conclusions and analysis to clarify
the evolution of Iranian architecture in this period.
The latest study, Frühe Iranische Moscheen (Berlin, 1994), has been carried out by
Barbara Finster. This book explains the different types of early mosques in Iran, with
much material from literary sources to supplement the author’s own fieldwork.
Since the Islamic revolution in Iran (1357/1979), Iranian specialists have carried out
some significant architectural and archaeological research; some of this work has not
been published yet while other work has been published only in Persian and is difficult of
access. In the course of restoration operations in key historical monuments much new and
important material has been assembled, though much of this has not been reported yet. To
gather together and to order all of this new information is one of the most important aims
of my study. Its primary aim is to understand the characteristics and the underlying
principles of early Islamic Iranian architecture.
In what follows, I shall try to explain how and why this early (and neglected) period
holds the key to understanding the Islamic architecture of Iran. It is essentially a
transitional period, a time of laying the foundations for what was to come. It documents
the earlier experiments in building types, structural techniques and architectural
decoration. We see here the earliest attempt of Islamic architecture in Iran to find a
distinctive voice. Only few buildings survive – thought it is very likely that more will be
found in years to come - but their wide range of form, style, material and decoration
reveals a national tradition that – even thought it was still in the process of tradition that
was already, in key ways, different from that of the other Islamic lands.
The thesis tries to explain how the heritage of pre-Islamic Iranian architecture evolved
and how it laid the foundations for Iranian, and especially Saljuq, architecture. Thus, to
create a solid base for studying the later period is an important supplementary aim of this
|Appears in Collections:||History of Art thesis and dissertation collection|
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