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ARTH303: Art of the Islamic World

Unit 1: Early Islamic Art and Architecture of the Umayyad Period (632-750)   This unit focuses on the core beliefs of Islam and the early development of Islamic art and architecture during the Umayyad period and later in Spain.  It begins with an overview of Islamic beliefs, early Islamic history, and the general characteristics of Islamic art and architecture.  The unit then traces the development of Islamic art and architecture under Umayyad patronage and their adoption and adaptation of pre-Islamic artistic and architectural traditions.  The unit concludes by looking at Islamic art and architecture in Spain after the last member of the Umayyad dynasty fled and established his capital at Córdoba.  After completing this unit, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the central beliefs of Islam, the major characteristics of Islamic art and architecture, particularly under the Umayyads and later regional developments in Spain.

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit will take you about 16.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 1.4: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 1.5: 5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.5.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.5.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.5.2: 3 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the core beliefs of Islam and major characteristics of Islamic art and architecture.
  • Identify the basic architectural elements and decorative motifs found in mosques.
  • Explain the relationship between the core beliefs of Islam and the major characteristics of Islamic art and architecture.
  • Identify major building projects undertaken by the Umayyads and the Muslim rulers of Spain.
  • Explain early developments in Islamic art and architecture and their relationship to previous traditions.

1.1 Overview of the Early History of Islam and Core Beliefs   - Reading: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s “Arts of the Islamic World: A Teacher’s Guide” Link: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s “Arts of the Islamic World: A Teacher’s Guide” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please download this resource by clicking on the link labeled “Arts of the Islamic World: A Teacher’s Guide” under “Teacher Resources.”  Read the “Overview of Islam” on pages 5-18 of the PDF file as an introduction to the early history of Islam and its core beliefs.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Friday Prayers” Link: Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Friday Prayers” (Quicktime, HTML Transcript)
     
    Instructions: Please watch this brief video about Friday prayers and the mosque of Sultan Hasan in Egypt (2:47 minutes).
     
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  • Reading: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Ka’ba” Link: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Ka’ba” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this webpage about the history of the Ka’ba.  After you have finished, make sure to click on “view thumbnail images” at the top right hand corner to view diagrams and images of the Ka’ba.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Museum with No Frontiers’ “Pilgrimage” Link: Museum with No Frontiers’ “Pilgrimage” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link titled “Introduction.”  Read the text on the page, and then click on the hyperlink in the right hand of the page labeled “Next page” to read each subsequent page.  Continue to do this until you have reached the end of the online exhibition that focuses on Islamic pilgrimage (14 webpages total).
     
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1.2 Overview of Islamic Art   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of Islamic Art’s “The Nature of Islamic Art" Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of Islamic Art’s “The Nature of Islamic Art"
 
Instructions: Please read this page as an introduction to the characteristics of Islamic art. Also, click on “View slideshow” at the top of the webpage (or you may click on each thumbnail individually at the top of the webpage) to examine the artworks associated with this reading.
 
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1.2.1 Islamic Calligraphy   - Reading: The Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Calligraphy in Islamic Art” Link: The Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Calligraphy in Islamic Art
 
Instructions: Please read this page in its entirety as an introduction to the development, importance, and use of Arabic calligraphy in Islamic art and architecture.
 
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1.2.2 Geometric and Vegetal Patterns in Islamic Art   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of Islamic Art’s “Geometric Patterns in Islamic Art” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of Islamic Art’s “Geometric Patterns in Islamic Art
 
Instructions: Please read this page as an introduction to the development, importance, and use of geometric patterns in Islamic art and architecture.  Click on “View slideshow” at the top of the webpage (or you may click on each thumbnail individually at the top of the webpage) to examine the artwork associated with this reading.

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: The Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Plant Motifs in Islamic Art” Link: The Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Plant Motifs in Islamic Art
     
    Instructions: Please read this page in its entirety as an introduction to the development, importance, and use of plant motifs in Islamic art and architecture.
     
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1.2.3 Islamic Art and Figural Representation   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of Islamic Art’s “Figural Representation in Islamic Art” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of Islamic Art’s “Figural Representation in Islamic Art
 
Instructions: Please read this page as an introduction to Islamic attitudes toward figural representation.  Click on “View slideshow” at the top of the webpage (or you may click on each thumbnail individually at the top of the webpage) to examine the artwork associated with this reading.

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.4 The Mosque   - Reading: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s “Arts of the Islamic World: A Teacher’s Guide” Link: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s “Arts of the Islamic World: A Teacher’s Guide” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please download this resource by clicking on the link labeled “Arts of the Islamic World: A Teacher’s Guide” under the “Teacher’s Resources” heading.  Read “Art of the Mosque” on pages 26-28 of the PDF file as an introduction to the art and architecture of the Islamic Mosque.
 
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1.3 Architecture of the Umayyad Caliphate   1.3.1 Umayyad Religious Architecture   - Reading: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Building Style: Umayyad” Link: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Building Style: Umayyad” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this text as an introduction to Umayyad architecture. 
 
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1.3.1.1 The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock   - Reading: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Haram al-Sharif” and “Al-Aqsa Mosque” Link: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Haram al-Sharif” (HTML) and “Al-Aqsa Mosque” (HTML)
  
Instructions: Please read both webpages.  When you are finished, click on the thumbnails at the top right corner of each page to view images of Haram al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
 
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  • Web Media: Saudi Aramco Magazine’s “A Virtual Walking Tour: Al-Haram Al-Sharif” Link: Saudi Aramco Magazine’s “A Virtual Walking Tour: Al Haram Al-Sharif” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: After listening to the introduction, click on the play button for “Virtual Walking Tour” to take a virtual tour of Al-Haram Al-Sharif with narration.  Please note that there are additional arrows and segments of narration inside individual structures that you need to listen to.  The entire tour takes about 2 hours.
     
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1.3.1.2 The Umayyad Mosque at Damascus   - Reading: Out Of Hadhramout’s “The Great Umayyad Mosque, Damascus” Link: Out Of Hadhramout’s “The Great Umayyad Mosque, Damascus” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read the entirety of this webpage to learn about the
Great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.  Please click on the images to
enlarge and study them more closely.  You may click on the link at
the bottom of the page to find additional resources on this topic.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Umayyad Mosque” Link: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Umayyad Mosque” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire webpage.  Then, click on the thumbnails at the top right corner of the page to view images of the Umayyad Mosque.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Victoria and Albert Museum’s “The Umayyad Mosque, Damascus, Syria” Link: Victoria and Albert Museum’s “The Umayyad Mosque, Damascus, Syria” (Quicktime)
     
    Instructions: Please watch this short video, which focuses on the gold mosaics that decorate the arcades in the courtyard of the Great Mosque of Damascus (47 seconds).
     
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  • Web Media: YouTube: History Department, KSU: Professor Robert Hildenband’s “Byzantine Elements in the Umayyad Mosque at Damascus" Link: YouTube: History Department, KSU: Professor Robert Hildenband’s “Byzantine Elements in the Umayyad Mosque at Damascus" (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Please watch this video, which discusses the incorporation of Byzantine and pre-Islamic architectural elements in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus in its entirety (14:10 minutes).  This talk was given at the International Symposium on the Historical Relations between Arabia, and the Greek and Byzantine World (5th century B.C. - 10th century A.D.) at King Saud University.

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1.3.2 Umayyad Palace Architecture   Note: This subunit is also covered in the lecture, “Islamic Art,” assigned beneath subunit 1.3.1.1.

1.3.2.1 Qusayr 'Amra (Jordan)   - Reading: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Qusayr 'Amra” Link: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Qusayr 'Amra” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage.  Then, click on the thumbnails at the top right corner of the page to view images of Qusayr 'Amra.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Saudi Aramco World’s “Qasr’Amra” Link: Saudi Aramco World’s “Qasr’Amra” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please read the entire webpage.

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1.3.2.2 Qasr al-Mshatta (Jordan)   - Reading: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Qasr al-Mshatta” Link: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Qasr al-Mshatta” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage.  Then, click on the thumbnails at the top right corner of the page to view images of Qasr al-Mshatta.
 
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1.3.2.3 Khirbat al-Mafjar (Palestine)   - Reading: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Khirbat al-Mafjar” Link: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Khirbat al-Mafjar” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage.  Then, click on the thumbnails at the top right corner of the page to view images of Khirbat al-Mafjar.
 
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1.3.2.4 Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi and Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi (Syria)   - Reading: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi” and “Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi” Link: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi” (HTML) and “Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read these webpages.  Then, click on the thumbnails at the top right corner of the each page to view images of Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi and Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi.
 
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1.4 Art of the Umayyad Caliphate   - Reading: Museums with No Frontiers’ “The Umayyads” Link: Museums with No Frontiers’ “The Umayyads” (HTML)

 Instructions: Click on the link titled “Introduction.”  Read the
text on the page, and then click on the hyperlink in the right hand
of the page labeled “Next page” to access each webpage for reading. 
Continue to do this until you have reached the end of the online
exhibition (15 pages total).  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.5 Islamic Art and Architecture in Spain   1.5.1 Art of the Umayyad Period in Spain (711-1031)   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of Islamic Art’s “The Art of the Umayyad Period in Spain (711–1031)” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of Islamic Art’s “The Art of the Umayyad Period in Spain (711–1031)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this page as an introduction to the history and art of Umayyad Spain.  After you have read the text, click on “View Slideshow” to see examples of Umayyad Spanish art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Click on each individual image, and read the accompanying text.
 
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1.5.2 The Great Mosque of Córdoba   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's "Guided Observation 2: Umayyad Mosque and Great Mosque of Cordoba" The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

[Submit Materials](/contribute/)
  • Reading: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Great Mosque of Córdoba” Link: Archnet’s Digital Library: “Great Mosque of Córdoba” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this page about the history and architecture of the Great Mosque of Córdoba.  After you have finished, make sure to click on “view thumbnail images” at the top right hand corner to view diagrams and images of the interior and exterior of the Great Mosque of Córdoba.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: YouTube: UNESCO’s “Historic Cordoba” Link: YouTube: UNESCO’s “Historic Cordoba” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Please watch this video about Cordóba, Spain, and the Great Mosque of Córdoba in its entirety (2:53 minutes).
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.5.3 Later Islamic Art and Architecture in Spain   - Web Media: Saudi Aramco Magazine’s “A Virtual Walking Tour: The Alhambra” Link: Saudi Aramco Magazine’s “A Virtual Walking Tour: The Alhambra” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Listening to the “Orientation” is optional but recommended to help you successfully navigate through this website.  Click on the play button for “Virtual Walking Tour” to tour the Alhambra with narration.  Please note that there are additional arrows and segments of narration inside individual structures that you need to listen to.  The entire tour takes about 2 hours.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Museum with No Frontiers’ “Mud?jar Art” Link: Museum with No Frontiers’ “Mud?jar Art” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link titled “Introduction.”  Read the text on the page and then click on the hyperlink in the right hand of the page labeled “Next page” to access each subsequent page for reading.  Continue to do this until you have reached the end of the online exhibition that focuses on Mud?jar art (15 webpages total).
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.