Islamic Gallery
Islam in Asia 2008

Islam in Asia 2008


I returned November 8, 2008,  from an extended photographic expedition that took me to Turkey, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, and Iran. The purpose of the trip, part of an ongoing project that already includes similar work in Spain, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, was to document additional historically important buildings and objects of art that may be used to illustrate the origins, evolution, and diffusion of Islamic culture. Naturally, these include buildings whose origins are not Islamic but that were part of the existing cultural contexts into which Islam expanded over time. So, there are examples of Armenian, Byzantine, Nabatean and Roman Imperial art and architecture. I include these because they were an important part of the overall process of cultural synthesis that eventually produced Islamic civilization. The images sets are designed to provide material for instructional application in the classroom or lecture hall and also, by offering comprehensive, in depth coverage beyond what would be required in a typical survey, to support more advanced research applications for use in seminars or independent graduate study.


Please find here a listing of the specific cities and buildings included in this collection. I have organized the listing chronologically in the order in which I visited them. I had intended to begin in Iran with a program that would have taken me to many more sites than I eventually visited. However, delays in the delivery of my visa prevented me from making that program, so instead I visited eastern Turkey following an alternative program already prepared in the event the Iranian program could not be realized. This  focused on Seljuk art and architecture along the Silk Road. Later in the trip I decided it was possible to make a brief visit to Iran at the end of my travel.



I traveled to Turkey in the fall of 2007 to begin documenting buildings for this project. The focus of the 2007 trip was Ottoman Art and Architecture, and particularly the work of Mimar Sinan, the court architect of Suleyman the Magnificent. But the trip also included most of the major Hellenistic and Roman Imperial sites as well as a number of important Seljuk buildings, and the Armenian Church of the Holy Cross near Van. Moreover, I had the opportunity to do extensive documentation of museum collections in Istanbul and all over Turkey. These images from the 2007 trip are already catalogued and available. The 2008 trip focused on Seljuk sites in Eastern Turkey as well as Armenian sites in Kars and Ani, but also greatly expanded the coverage of Sinan’s buildings not only in Istanbul and Eastern Turkey but also in Syria. I was interested in the Armenian influence on early Seljuk architecture, particularly in the caravanserais. For this reason, I visited the ancient Armenian city of Ani, to see and photograph the standing buildings and fragments that remain there for comparative study with the early caravanserais the Seljuks built along the Silk Road across Anatolia. There was also an opportunity to visit and photograph the spectacular Gorem Open Air Museum in Cappadochia, Turkey, with its spectacular set of early Christian cave churches, carved into the living rock of the unusual landscape of the region, whose original frescoes remain in a remarkable state of preservation.


Istanbul          Aya Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Yildiz Palace, Yildiz Upper Compound, Chalet and Tile Factory, Beyazit Mosque, Church of Constantine Lips, Davudpasa Mosque, Kimoglu Alipasa Mosque, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque)

Sinan buildings:

Sehzade Mosque, Mihrimah Sultan mosque, Haseki Hurrem Sultan Mosque, Medrese,  Mekteb,  Hamam, Hadim Ibrahim Pasa Mosque, Baths of Roxlana, Sokolu Mehmet Pasa Mosque, Rustem Pasa Mosque, Tombs and medrasas in Suleimania complex, Yavuz Sultan Selim Medrasa, Heyrettin Pasha Tomb, Molla Celebi Mosque, Sinan Pasa Mosque,

Buyuk Cekmece, Sultan Suleyman Caravanserai, Sultan Suleyman Bridge



Kars:                Church of the 12 Apostles


Ani:                 Cathedral, City Walls, King Gagik Church, Poladoglu Chapel, Private buildings, Saint Prkitch Church, Seljuk Caravanserai, Seljuk Mosque, Seljuk Palace, Silk Road Bridge, Tigran Honets Bridge, General views over site


Erzurum            Cifte Minare Medresi, 1253, ceramic ornament, Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque (Sinan Building), Citadel, Great Mosque, Murat Pasha Mosque, Rustem Pasha Caravanserai, Three Tombs, Yakutiye Medrasa


Sivas                Gok Medrese, 1271, Sifaiye Medersi, 1211-1220, Muzaffer Buruciye Medresesi, Buruciye Medrasa, Guduk Minaret, Han, Kale Camii, Twin Minaret Medrassa, Ulu Camii


Nigde               Alaeddin Cami, 1223, Hudavent Hatun Turbesi, 1312, Ak Medrasa, Sungurbey Mosque


Keyserai           Haunt Hatun Camii, 1237, Hatuniye Turbesi, 1237, Doner Kumbet, 1275, Ali Cafer turbe, 1350, Citadel, 1224, Hudavent Hatun Turbesi, 1312, Haci Pasa Mosque (Sinan Building),


Aksaray           Sultanhani Caravanserai, 1229

                        Agzi Kara Han (east of Aksaray)


Avanos             Sanhan Caravanserai


Gorem              Gorem Open Air Museum: Karanlik (Dark) Church (including frescoes), Tokali (Buckle) Church, other churches and frescoes


Konya              Sadeddin Han, 1236, Ince Minareli Medrasa, Meram Kizloren Kandemir Hani, Mevlana Museum,


Beyeshir           Esrefoglu Camii, 1298


Ankara             Cenabi Ahmed Pasa Mosque (Sinan building), Arslanhane Mosque, Citadel


Diyarbarkir     Ulu Camii, 1091 and later, City Walls, Husrev Pasha Han, Hasan Pasha Han, Nebi Mosque

                        Sinan Buildings:

                        Behram Pasha Mosque

                        Hadim Ali Pasha Mosque, Medresi

                        Malek Ahmed Pasa mosque




In Uzbekistan I was mainly interested in seeing and photographing the famous glazed tile work of the great buildings erected by Timur the Great and his successors along the Silk Road in Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara. There was also time to visit Khiva to see a late flowering of the same tradition of mud brick buildings clad in glistening glazed ceramic tiles in a rich array of colors and patterns from the end of the 19th century.


Tashkent          Amir Temur Square, Independence Square, Khast Imom Complex,


Samarkand       Registan Square, Shaki-Zinda Complex, Bibi-Khanum Mosque, Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis, Gur-Emir Mausoleum, Ulugbek Observatory


Bukhara           Kalon ensemble, medrese Miri-Arab, Magoki-Attori mosque, Chasma-Ayub, medrese Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan, Kosh mederse, trade domes, Lyabi Jauz complex, medrese Chor-Minor, Samani dynasty mausoleum, Arc Fortress, summer palace of Bukhara Emirs


Khiva               Ichan Qala fortress, Allakulikahn Madrassah, Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum, Isolm Khoja Minaret, Juma Mosque, Toshhovli and other monuments.



In Turkmenistan the main event was visiting the ancient Silk Road city of Merv, where the recently restored Tomb of Shah Sanjar stands amid the ruins of a once great trading center, abandoned when the river changed its course.


Merv                Tomb of Sultan Sanjar (1157)


Ashgobat          The glittering modern city of Turkmanbashi the Great.


Dashowuz        Kunya-Urgench Historical Site: Mausoleums of Turbek-Khanym, Sultan Tekesh, Sultan Il Arslan, Najmad-din-Kubra, Sultan Ali, Kutlug Timur minaret and Kyrk Molla.



In Syria the main goal was to document the Great Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, among the other important buildings of the old city, the Takiyyeh as-Sulamaniyeh by Sinan, Palmyra, the noria of Hama, and the great Roman city of Bosra. Along the way I saw and photographed the famous crusader castle of Krak.



Aleppo             Citadel, Great Mosque, Khan of al Wizr


Dead Cities      Saint Simeon, Serjilla


Krak des Chevaliers


Hama               Al Azem Palace, various Norias along the river


Palmyra            Comprehensive coverage of ancient city including Temple of Baal, palm garden oasis, tower tombs, theatre, colonnaded street, citadel,

Desert Castle Qasr al-Hayr East


Damascus         Great Umayaad Mosque, Beit al Mamluka, Al Azem Palace, Souks, Roman Gateway, Madrasa Zahiriye, Medrasa Adifiye, Epigraphy Museum, Nizam Palace, Khan Assad Pasha, other Khans, Takiyyeh as-Sulaymaniyyeh complex (Sinan Building), Beit al-‘Aqqad (now the Danish Institute), Mosque of Hisham, Mosque of Sinan Pasha, Mosque of al-Ajami, Madrasa Sabuniya, Mausoleum of Wali-al-Shaibani, Mosque and tomb of Dervish Pasha, Dahdah Palace, al-Qaumaniye Mosque,


Bosra               Comprehensive coverage of ancient city including Roman, Byzantine and Islamic buildings, including the Mosque of Umar, the Theatre and the Cathedral.



In Jordan the main event was, of course, Petra, however I did also visit and photograph important early Umayyad sites in and around Amman, and the fabulous Roman city of Jerash. In and around Madaba I visited and photographed a number of important early Christian sites, focusing on the marvelous Byzantine mosaics that survive in the area.


Amman            Citadel, Mosque of King Abdullah, Mosque of King Hussein


Jerash               Roman City, comprehensive coverage


Madaba           Church of St. George, Mt.Nebo, Bethany Beyond the Jordan,


Petra                Comprehensive coverage of site


Palestine and Israel

In the Occupied West Bank it had been my intention to visit and photogaph Khirbat al Mafjar, an early Umayyad palace. However, I discovered that transportation to this site from the Allenby bridge is complicated because of the occupation regime and restrictions imposed on the use of certain roads. In Jerusalem, thanks to the kind assistance of Dr. Yusuf Natsheh, I was able to visit the inside of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and study and photograph the remarkable mosaics for several hours.


Jerusalem:         The Dome of the Rock (inside and out),

Al-Aqsa Mosque (inside and out),

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Views over the city from Mount of Olives



While I had originally intended to spend several weeks in Iran, unfortunate administrative complications delayed the issuance of my visa until after my originally booked flight had departed from Istanbul. So I used the time in Eastern Turkey instead to document the items noted above. When, near the end of the trip, I saw that I had sufficient resources to make a brief visit to Iran, I decided to concentrate on Isfahan and spend one day at Persepolis. There remains much else to do in Iran, and I intend to return in 2009.


Isfahan             Friday Mosque, Ali Kapu (High Gate) palace, Chel Situn (Palace of 40 Columns), Mosque of Shaykh Lutfullah, Shah Mosque (Masjid-i-Shah),

                        Pavillion of the Hasht Behisht (Eight Paradises), Pol-i-Khaju (bridge)


Persepolis         Comprehensive coverage of site, close attention to details of sculpture, and Necropolis