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Archnet Guide & FAQ

Exploring Archnet

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Research: Click the button to use Archnet’s powerful filtered & advanced search, or to see featured items.

Timeline: An introductory, visual resource allows you to chronologically explore the architecture of Muslim societies.

Collections: A page that categorizes major collections.

Resources: This page lists major collections alphabetically by title.

Pedagogy: Materials for teaching material and visual culture of Muslim societies, including syllabi and ready-to-use presentations.

Aga Khan Historic Cities Program (AKHCP): A virtual walk through Al Azhar Park in Cairo provides links to major program areas of AKHCP.

Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA): Scroll through a graphic presentation of AKAA material, organized by year.


Archnet FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about using Archnet.

Will Archnet work on my device/with my internet connection? What are the minimum requirements?

Currently Archnet will display properly on most devices that have a display of 13 in/33 cm or wider, regardless of operating system. Up to date browsers are recommended. If you are not using the following versions or higher, you may experience delays and errors: Firefox 31, Chrome 3.1, Internet Explorer 10. At lest 4 GB of RAM is recommended for the best browsing experience.

Archnet’s mobile interface is designed for tablets, and has been tested on the following devices and platforms:

  • iPad and iPad mini running Apple iOS 8.1 and above.
  • Android ver. 4.4.2 and above with at least a 10.1” screen size (Google Chrome recommended)
  • All Microsoft Surface devices, but not with the Metro IE browser. Firefox recommended

Archnet has only been tested on the devices listed above, but may be compatible with others as well. Please feel free to contact us with your experiences on other tablets. Archnet is not compatible with mobile phones or most other devices smaller than those indicated above, though a fully compatible mobile interface is under development.

How do I sign up to use Archnet? How do I login?

Archnet is an open, freely accessible, digital library. You can access material directly by browsing or conducting a search. No registration or login is required. All resources are fully downloadable for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes only, subject to the terms stipulated here.

What is the difference between the search box and advanced search?

The search box at the bottom of the page, and that rises to the top if you click the research button is an anywhere search. It mirrors the search in the box if you open the advanced search. It will find the terms entered, regardless of where they exist in a record. Advanced search allows you to focus on specific fields and to exclude or include them in your results. It will only search in the field you indicate. Multiple advanced search filters can be set, and it can be combined with filters.

Search by regions and countries

Search by regions and countries

What is the best way to search by location?

Yes. At the most precise level, you can use the Advanced Search to limit your search to specific cities. If you wish to search by country or by region, do so by expanding the Geo Filter map in the left hand search bar, and select the area to include in your search. You can select regions in a single click, depending on the degree to which you have zoomed the map. For example, fully zoomed out, clicking anywhere in Africa selects the entire continent. Zoom in and you can select one or more of six regions in Africa. Zoom in again to select individual countries.

You can also add or remove countries from a regional search by selecting the region, then zooming in to add or remove countries. For example, refine the “Middle East” by selecting the region, then zoom in and add or remove countries, as demonstrated in these images. See a video demonstrating various types of location search here.

My search didn’t produce any/produced too few results. What can I try?

If a search produces fewer results than you expect, start by checking the spelling of the search terms. Typographical errors are the most common reason for failed searches. Also try alternate spellings. When using the search box, try using the Enter/Return key between words to create separate search terms, rather than searching for a single long string of words. For example, if you are looking for the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia, type Great Mosque<ENTER> Kairouan<ENTER>, then click the search icon. If you type “Great Mosque Kairouan” and then select <ENTER>, your search will only produce results containing those words together in that order. NB: Better results can be achieved by using the search box in conjunction with the Advanced search. For more tips on searching, see the Archnet Research Guide.

You can combine advanced search and filters

You can combine advanced search and filters

My search produced too many/irrelevant results. What can I do?

If a search produces too many or irrelevant results, you can narrow your search terms by using the menu on the left side of the search results page. The filters in the menu allow you to limit the search by geography, century, collection, type, and style/period. You can arrange the results by type, location, collection, and style using the last item in this menu.

You can also narrow your search by using the Advanced Search at the top of the menu, either alone or in conjunction with filters. Click on the + sign to access the advanced search menu. This will allow you to search by the record title, associated names, city, building type/usage, keywords, language, and materials. Note that keywords are generally consistent with those listed in the Getty Vocabularies. Nouns are plural. A video guide to advanced search is available here.

What is the difference between “Title” and “Name” in Advanced Search?

“Title” refers to the title or name of the site, person, publication, video, or image. The search will look for matches in both the primary title and alternates, including translations, transliterations, abbreviations, or names used in the past.

“Name” refers to persons, associations, corporations, or other entities associated with a record. A name search will look at all the agents associated with a record, including architects, planners, artists, patrons, photographers, clients, authors, artisans, etc.

Note: If you can’t find a site with a legitimate, widely accepted spelling of a title or name, let us know and we’ll look into it.

What is the difference between Building Type and Building Usage in Advanced Search?

Building Type is a general classification that defines a building by category. It is broad. Building Usage indicates the specific purpose of the structure. Multiple Building Usages fall under a Type. For example, a search on the Building Type “Agricultural” will bring up sites associated with the Usages barns, farms, stables, silos, and others. A search on Building Usage brings up only that specific usage. A search on the Building Type “Religious” will find cathedrals, mosques, synagogues, prayer spaces, zawiyas, etc. To find a specific sort of religious structure, search under that building usage. The terms used in these fields appear in a drop-down menu.

Why aren’t there more images, publications and media in when I limit my search by Time Period?

The time period filter corresponds to the creation date of the item that is the subject of the record, i.e. the date on which a publication was published, or date on which the image was taken. Start by searching for sites from the time period, and access the publications and images from there.

If I want more items in the search results view, or I want to see more information about the items, can I change the view?

Archnet offers both a list view that shows more information about each item, and a grid view that shows more items. In grid view, scroll over the item to see the title and location. More items will show if you lower the zoom level on your browser, but the thumbnails will be smaller.

Can I use an Archnet image (in a class, in a paper, in a book…)?

All resources are fully downloadable for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes only, subject to our terms of use. Contact us at archnet@mit.edu with requests for publishable quality images.

The site is slow or won’t load properly. What can I do?

Archnet is a large, graphic intensive, digital library, and it takes longer to load over slow connections. Still, you should not experience long delays, particularly after the site has fully loaded the essential structure and background images for the first time. On 1 Mbps connection the initial load will take about 24-30 seconds, but subsequent visits should be faster. If this is not the case, check your system requirements and browser version.

Remember that searches with large sets of results will take a long time to process, so try and limit your search beforehand. Use the advanced search options when possible. If you experience excessive download times while following these suggestions, contact us.

Can I contribute to Archnet?

Yes. We welcome contributions of publications, images, and scholarship. Consult the How to Contribute, or contact us for more more information.

I have a different question. What do I do?

Have you tried all the links on our help page, linked at the bottom of each page? If you still have questions, the best way to contact us is at archnet@mit.edu. We will respond to your question personally, usually with 7-10 days. You may also find your question added to this FAQ.