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AKDC’s Visual Resources Librarian to present on marble decorations of Samarra

View of mihrab in the Great Mosque of al-Mutawakkil in Samarra, photographed by Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, 1969.

On May 9, AKDC’s Visual Resources Librarian Matt Saba delivers the weekly research seminar at the Khalili Research Centre For the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East, University of Oxford. Matt will speak about the architectural decorations made from marble excavated at the early Islamic palace-city of Samarra, located in Iraq. While Samarra is famous for its carved stucco revetments, its architectural marble is rarely discussed. One reason for its neglect is that much was lost, first in antiquity and also after the site’s initial excavation in 1911-14. An overdue survey of the way this and other semi-precious materials were used in Samarra’s architecture will add valuable data to our knowledge of the site’s material culture, and broaden our understanding of what might constitute an imperial style of architectural ornament under the Abbasid dynasty of Iraq.

The lectures take place in Thursdays at 5.15 PM in the Khalili Research Centre, located at 3 St John Street, Oxford OX1 2LG.  The complete schedule for the remainder of the series, convened by Alain George, I.M. Pei Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, at the University of Oxford, is below:

9 May | Marble from Samarra: Its Use, Re-use and Relationship to the Idea of an ‘Abbasid Style’ | Matthew Saba (Aga Khan Documentation Center, MIT Libraries)

16 May | Islamic Portable Architecture in Christian Contexts: The Use of Islamic Tents in Medieval Italian Churches | Federica Gigante (Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford)

23 May | The Era of the Mamluk Sultan Al-Mu’ayyad Shaykh | Tarek Swelim (Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Doha)

30 May | Poetry in the Garden of Love: The Context and Setting of the Ottoman Meclis | Mehmet Kalpaklı (Bilkent University, Ankara)

6 June | The Art of Abri: The Advent, Evolution and Impact of Turco-Persianate Paper Marbling in the Early Modern Period | Jake Benson (University of Leiden)

13 June | Sensory Explorations in Ottoman Architectural History | Nina Ergin Macaraig (Koç University, Istanbul)

20 June | Sufi Conception of Beauty: The Case of Ruzbihan Baqli (d. 1209) | Kazuyo Murata (King’s College London)


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