Upcoming events: Research Seminars in Islamic Art, SOAS, London

indexThursday 22nd May 2014, 5.30pm in Room B104 (Brunei Building):

Eduardo Manzano Moreno (CSIC, Madrid) Delivering the Caliphate. The circulation of wealth and valuables in Umayyad ​Cordoba at the 10th/4th century

Broad views of “convivencia” as the main feature that pervades Umayyad Cordoba in the 10th/4th century have usually fostered a number of myths and misconceptions regarding its sudden “magnificence” and “splendor”. This has entailed that the material foundations of the Caliphate have usually been overlooked. The aim of this lecture is to show the role played by wealth and valuables in the social and political articulation of the Umayyad Caliphate, and how a proper assessment of these elements can render new insights for the knowledge of objects and material remains.

Thursday 5th June 2014, 5.30pm in Room B104 (Brunei Building):

Antonio Vallejo Triano (​former director of the Madinat Al-Zahara Architectural Complex, 1985 to 2013) The Cordoba Caliphate through Madinat Al-Zahra: from its proclamation to its consolidation

Madinat al-Zahra was the great urban creation of the Umayyad Caliphate of al-Andalus. It was built in the middle of the tenth century as part of the ideological-structural programme launched by Abd al-Rahman III after his self-proclamation as Amir al-muminin (Prince of Believers) and within the context of his rivalry with other Caliphates, especially the Fatimid Caliphate. Since Madinat al-Zahra was one of the Caliphate’s main means of propaganda and legitimisation, the lecture seeks to explain how city planning and architecture not only reflect the structure of the Caliphate State but also its most pressing concerns and issues. This direct relationship, guaranteed by the sovereign’s involvement in all decision-making processes regarding construction, is one of the aspects that the lecture aims to bring to light. Moreover, the changes in palace architecture also clearly reflect the changes made to the configuration of the State. Madinat al-Zahra was not a static city but underwent very important transformation processes that can be read and interpreted in an historical context as a reflection of the evolution of the Caliphate State from its proclamation to its consolidation. The analysis of the decoratives materials of Madinat al-Zahra in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which were uncovered in the first excavations, will help corroborate these hypotheses.

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